If NASA were to launch its mission to Mars today, Filipinos would make up roughly half of the two million names on the spacecraft based on sign ups on the agency's website. How many in the Philippines dream of going to space (at least by name)? Nearly 1.2 million as of Thursday.
The Philippines had 1.18 million sign ups, 10 times more than second placer, the U.S. which is home to NASA and roughly equivalent to the second to eleventh placers on the list that also includes India, Brazil, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Italy, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Note that many in the top 10 are still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sign up for a "future Mars mission" on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration website for a boarding pass. Estimated year of departure is 2026. The U.S. space agency is drumming up interest in its Mars exploration. On Thursday, it launched its Perseverance Rover, which is expected to touch down on the red planet in February next year.
Perseverance will stay in Mars for a year to collect soil samples for possible return to Earth. The bigger goal is to look for signs of ancient life. Earth is getting too crowded and billionaires from Richard Branson to Elon Musk have turned to space exploration as their next frontier.
The Philippines beating the rest of the world in sign ups for the Mars mission is another testament to the country's reputation as the world's social media capital. How many times have we powered our beauty queens to special awards based on Facebook votes? Remember the online vote for the new seven wonders of the world?