Published: Aug. 8, 2013

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, mission to Mars will carry just over 1,100 haiku, along with thousands of names, on its journey to the red planet. The haiku were part of a contest, sponsored by the University of Colorado Boulder, asking the public to submit haiku poetry relating to NASA’s upcoming MAVEN mission to Mars.

The winners of the contest, coordinated by CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), came from across the nation and around the world, including entries from Palestine, India, Australia and Europe. The top five haiku received 1,000 votes or more, and included entries by popular British blogger Benedict Smith and well-known American poet Vanna Bonta.

The spacecraft for NASA’s MAVEN mission, which is being led by CU-Boulder’s LASP, arrived in Florida last week in preparation for a scheduled November launch. The principal investigator for the MAVEN project is CU-Boulder Professor Bruce Jakosky.

The top five winning haiku entries and their authors are below:

It’s funny, they named
Mars after the God of War
Have a look at Earth

     Benedict Smith
     United Kingdom

Thirty-six million
miles of whispering welcome.
Mars, you called us home.

     Vanna Bonta

Stars in the blue sky
cheerfully observe the Earth
while we long for them

     Luisa Santoro

distant red planet
the dreams of earth beings flow
we will someday roam

     Greg Pruett
     Idaho, USA

Mars, your secret is
unknown for humanity
we want to know you.

     Fanni Redenczki

“The contest has resonated with people in ways that I never imagined,” said Stephanie Renfrow, MAVEN Education and Public Outreach leader and the Going to Mars campaign leader. “Both new and accomplished poets wrote poetry to reflect their views of Earth and Mars, to share their feelings about space exploration, to pay tribute to loved ones who have passed on and to make us laugh with their words.”

CU-Boulder also is providing MAVEN’s science operations, science instruments and leading the Education and Public Outreach program. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is managing the project and providing two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colo., built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory is providing science instruments for the mission. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., is providing navigation support, the Deep Space Network and the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

For information on other MAVEN haiku contest winners, as well as how you can submit your name to be placed on a DVD that will travel to Mars aboard the MAVEN spacecraft, visit LASP’s Going to Mars with MAVEN program at

For more information on the MAVEN project visit  For updates, photos and more about the MAVEN journey visit CU-Boulder’s social media collection at See more at

Stephanie Renfrow, 303-735-5814
Jim Scott, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-4007