Salford will have its name etched in the heavens thanks to a NASA space probe visiting an asteroid that could hold clues to the origin of the solar system.
By winning a Planetary Society competition, over 50 children from Salford’s Beaver Scout 100th, 88th, 82nd and 43rd groups got the opportunity to have their name saved to a microchip attached to the OSIRIS-Rex rocket.
The 1,500kg craft launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on 8 September with a seven-year mission to travel millions of miles to land on the 500m-wide carbon-rich asteroid Bennu.
Once there, NASA says it’ll collect alien samples which could show how organic life started on Earth billions of years ago.
The unmanned probe will turn around and fly back to Earth by 2023, carrying these incredibly important samples for scientists to study.
One copy of the Salford District Beavers name will return to Earth, while a second attached to the probe’s command module will remain on Bennu.
It’s just the latest space-bound honour for Salford kids, after British astronaut Tim Peake visited the city to engage with local schoolchildren in the months before he flew to the International Space Station.
56 Beaver Scouts age six to eight joined in a sleepover in Chorley around the rocket launch, giving them an opportunity to work towards their Space Activities Badge.
For many it marked their first stay away from home.
Adult volunteer, Sarah Jane Moore said: “I’m an accountant by day and Scouting allows me to have fun running fantastic activities.”
“I know that without volunteers like myself many of these young people wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience the sense of achievement a night away from home gives them, especially if it’s for the first time.
“Scouting is really great because they get to share these special memories with so many friends.
A spokesman for NASA Headquarters in Washington DC said: “We’re pleased to see so much interest and involvement from the public in NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex.
“It’s exciting to see that this mission is inspiring Scouts and other young people around the world to learn more about space and science.”