MYSTERY WIRE / CNN — It’s no longer a mystery, the new Mars rover is now known as Perseverance. It is scheduled to be launched this July and land on Mars in February 2021.
The winning name was entered during a nationwide contest by Alexander Mather, a seventh grade student in Virginia. He will be invited to watch the spacecraft launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this summer.
When Mather was 11, his parents sent him to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. When he arrived he saw the static display of the Saturn V rocket rising over the building, “I immediately knew space was something I was doing for the rest of my life,” Mather said.
Curiosity. InSight. Spirit. Opportunity. If you think about it, all of these names of past Mars rovers are qualities we possess as humans. We are always curious, and seek opportunity. We have the spirit and insight to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But, if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing. Perseverance.Alexander Mather – From his essay to NASA
The name was announced Thursday by Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s associate administrator, at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. “Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration,” said Zurbuchen. “Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it’s going to make amazing discoveries. It’s already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today — processing for launch.”
Students across the US, ranging from kindergarten to high school, submitted more than 28,000 potential names for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. A panel of 4,700 volunteer judges whittled that list down to 155 semifinalists. Then, people from around the world shared their opinions on nine finalists, registering more than 770,000 votes in a public poll.
Here are the runners-up:
- Endurance (Kindergarten to 4th grade, by Oliver Jacobs of Virginia)
- Tenacity (Kindergarten to 4th grade, by Eamon Reilly of Pennsylvania)
- Promise,(Kindergarten to 4th grade, by Amira Shanshiry of Massachusetts)
- Vision (5th to 8th grade, by Hadley Green of Mississippi)
- Clarity (5th to 8th grade, by Nora Benitez of California)
- Ingenuity (9th to 12th grade, by Vaneeza Rupani of Alabama)
- Fortitude (9th to 12th grade, by Anthony Yoon of Oklahoma)
- Courage (9th to 12th grade, by Tori Gray of Louisiana)
Each contestant presented their name to a panel that included Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division Lori Glaze; NASA rover driver Nick Wiltsie; NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins; and Clara Ma, who named the Curiosity rover when she was a sixth-grade student in 2009.
The submissions were judged based on the appropriateness and significance of the name, its originality, the quality and originality of the essay, presentation and interview, as well as bonus points for high public poll votes.