NASA is getting ready to send another rover to the surface of Mars and is looking to people online to help determine what it’s name will be. NASA hosted a “Name the Rover” essay contest, which invited students in kindergarten through 12th grade from across the United States to come up with a fitting name for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover and to write a short essay about it. Through that effort, more than
28,000 essays were submitted. According to NASA, a diverse panel of nearly 4,700 judge volunteers, composed of educators, professionals and space enthusiasts from all around the country, narrowed the pool down to 155 deserving semifinalists from every state and territory in the country.
The nine finalists (submission name, grade level, student name and state) are:
- Endurance, K-4, Oliver Jacobs of Virginia
- Tenacity, K-4, Eamon Reilly of Pennsylvania
- Promise, K-4, Amira Shanshiry of Massachusetts
- Perseverance, 5-8, Alexander Mather of Virginia
- Vision, 5-8, Hadley Green of Mississippi
- Clarity, 5-8, Nora Benitez of California
- Ingenuity, 9-12, Vaneeza Rupani of Alabama
- Fortitude, 9-12, Anthony Yoon of Oklahoma
- Courage, 9-12, Tori Gray of Louisiana
“Thousands of students have shared their ideas for a name that will do our rover and the team proud,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington. “Thousands more volunteered time to be part of the judging process. Now it is the public’s opportunity to become involved and express their excitement for their favorites of the final nine.”
Now until 9pm PT on January 27, people can go to http://go.nasa.gov/name2020 to vote for their favorite. After the poll closes, the 9 student finalists will discuss their rover names with a panel including Glaze, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA-JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie, and Clara Ma, who earned the honor of naming the Mars rover Curiosity as a sixth-grade student in 2009.
The contest will conclude in early March, when the rover’s new name — and the student behind it — are announced. The grand prize winner will also receive an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
After it’s launched from Florida later this year, the rover will head to Mars to search for signs of past life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for a future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the planet.