NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Allegedly Closer to Get Its Name

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is just one step closer to having its own name as 155 students across the U.S. have already been chosen as semifinalists in the “Name the Rover” essay contest. And one finalist will be selected to win the grand prize – the exciting honor of naming the rover along with invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The unnamed rover is a robotic scientist that weighs more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms). It will be searching for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect the samples for future return to Earth and also it will pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, Lori Glaze said in a statement, “This rover is the first leg of a round-trip mission to Mars that will advance understanding in key science fields like astrobiology. This contest is a cool way to engage the next generation and encourage careers in all STEM fields. The chosen name will help define this rover’s unique personality among our fleet of Martian spacecraft.”

NASA received more than 28,000 essay submissions from K-12 students, for which NASA recruited volunteer contest judges from every U.S. state and territory. Around 4,700 eligible judge volunteers were selected for selecting the semifinalists.

Now, the next phases of judging will reduce the competition to nine finalists, and then the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite name online in late January.

The nine finalists will also be talking with a panel of experts, including Glaze, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, Clara Ma, who proposed the name for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, as a sixth-grade student in 2009, and NASA JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie. And the grand prize winner will be announced in the month of March this year.