“The chosen name will help define this rover’s unique personality among our fleet of Martian spacecraft.” – Lori Glaze (Planetary Science Division Director at NASA)
Naming the Rover
NASA is gearing up for launching a new Mars rover in July of this year. The naming process for the rover, which is currently dubbed the Mars 2020 rover, is almost over, with the final name to be announced on the 15th of March. You, dear reader, have a chance to decide this name, from a pool of 9 finalists. Read more to find out how and where.
The naming process initially began on August 28th of last year under the “Name the rover” challenge. Submissions from school students across the United States were accepted. Students from Kindergarden to Grade 12 were allowed to submit a name entry, along with a short paragraph explaining why the name would be a good fit for the new rover. More than 28,000 entries were submitted. To evaluate these entries, a panel of 4700+ educators, professionals and space enthusiasts volunteered to help narrow down the names for the beloved rover. Over 2 months of reviewing later, NASA announced a list of 155 semi-finalists on the 13th of January, 2020. You can check out those name entries here –
How you can help
Just yesterday, 9 finalists out of the 155 semi-finalists were selected. Now is your chance to vote for one of the nine, which you can do here –
The finalists, along with their entries 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
I’m personally rooting for Tenacity, I feel it has a nice ring to it. The poll is open till the 27th of January, after which all 9 names will be put under scrutiny once again until a finalist is declared on 15 March. The 9 finalists will talk with a panel of experts including Lori Glaze(Planetary Science Division Director at NASA), NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie and Clara Ma, who proposed the name for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, as a sixth-grade student in 2009.
The Name Decision Process
The judging criteria for the name are fourfold, with each aspect weighing a certain number of points. A handy point breakdown for the same –
40 Points – Appropriateness and Significance of Name
30 Points – Originality of name
30 Points – Originality and quality of the essay and/or finalist interview presentation
5 Points – Bonus points awarded to entry with the highest public poll votes
The grand prize winner will get the elusive opportunity to fly to Cape Air Force Station in Florida with their family to see the rover’s launch in July 2020.
The next step in space exploration
The Mars 2020 rover is a step towards putting humans on Mars as a part of the Artemis Missions (read more) by gathering data about the Red Planet, to prepare astronauts for crewed missions by the 2030s. It will aid research about Mars by searching for signs of microbial life, characterizing the planet’s climate and geology, and collecting samples for future return to Earth. It will also test oxygen producing techniques in an attempt to make the planet more hospitable and suitable for human habitation.
Learn more about the mission below –