CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) — A small piece of a local high school is sitting on the Red Planet.
On Monday, the Insight Lander touched down on Mars after a dangerous 300 million-mile trip. Along with it, the name of Oscar Smith High School.
Marissa Boccher, a graduate of the school had the school’s name added to the spacecraft. She was a part of the schools International Baccalaureate program, one she credits for her success today.
"I just immediately thought about I.B. and how cool it would be since it’s an international program I thought it’d be funny and nerdy it would be an interstellar program if we got the I.B. name on mars," said Boccher.
On Tuesday, Kerry Lancaster, the coordinator of the schools I.B. Program was still in awe of the thoughtful surprise.
"It was exciting to hear that we were going and to hear that you’re indirectly a part of something so exciting,' Lancaster said.
The moment the Insight touched down on Mars, Lancaster and her students knew they were indirectly a small part of history. It was all thanks to Boccher, her former student who wanted to give back to her high school.
"When I was in high school, I got really sick my senior year and a lot of those teachers went the extra mile, coming to my house to give me my homework and making sure I'd cross that finish line. So, it's just a nice way to remember them in that sense," said Boccher.
Lancaster said for many of her students, knowing the name of their school is on Mars gives them hope for a bright future.
"It really does make a difference," said Lancaster. "I think it inspires young kids. I'm grateful to NASA for allowing the public to get involved with this mission. I'm grateful to our graduate for making it so personal for us. We're kind of continuing to celebrate the touchdown even today."
The touchdown was an important milestone for NASA. Four members of the NASA Langley research center's team in Hampton played an important role in the landing.
Michelle Munk, Principal Technologist for entry, descent, and landing for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate said a successful landing was critical.
"It really helps the community keep the momentum and keep building on not only our engineering and scientific knowledge of Mars, so these missions are laid out for years into the future," said Munk.
Four members of NASA Langley in Hampton are still working on the mission tonight. They'll be back in town next week.
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