NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is now one step closer to getting its name. According to a press release, the American space agency has shortlisted 155 names among 28,000 essay submissions by students across the United States received in the ‘Name The Rover’ contest. The winner will not only have the exciting honour of naming the rover but also, an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July this year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The chosen name will help define this rover’s unique personality among our fleet of Martian spacecraft, as per NASA. The next phase of judging will reduce the competition to nine finalists, and the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite name online in late January. The results of the poll will be a consideration in the final naming selection.
RT NASA: Our #Mars2020 rover is one step closer to having its own name! 155 students across the U.S. were chosen as semifinalists in the “Name the Rover” essay contest. How & when will we select the winner? Find out here: https://t.co/CQJTYJ6Ak3 pic.twitter.com/6CS9r9iLqe
— Mush #AVFC (@mush0872) January 14, 2020
The nine finalists will then be judged by a panel of experts, including Clara Ma, who proposed the name for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, as a sixth-grade student in 2009. The grand prize winner will be announced in early March.
The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 1,000 kilograms. It will search for signs of past microbial 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 Red Planet. Being the first leg of a round trip to Mars, Mars 2020 rover will advance understanding in astrobiology.
Cover Credit: NASA