NASA's Mars 2020 rover gets an official name
NASA's Mars 2020 rover finally has a name: Perseverance. The result of a nationwide "Name the Rover" essay contest, the winning moniker was submitted by 13-year-old Alexander Mather of Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia, where the result was announced today by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate.
Today's announcement is the latest in a series of Mars mission naming contests that NASA has conducted for over 20 years. In 1997, US schoolchildren named the mini-rover Sojourner, as well as the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that landed in 2004, and the Curiosity rover that touched down on the Red Planet in 2012.
The Mars 2020 rover contest, which began on August 28, 2019, was overseen by 4,700 volunteer judges and received 28,000 entries, which were then whittled down to 155 semifinalists in three age categories. This was further reduced to nine finalists, who were interviewed by a panel of experts before the winner was determined.
NASA says Mather wasn't the only contestant to submit Perseverance as a name, but he was selected based, in part, on the essay he submitted.
Along with having the honor of naming the Mars 2020 rover, Mather and his family have been invited with his family to attend the launch of the Mars 2020 mission at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station later this year. In addition, the names of the semifinalists will be stenciled on a silicon wafer, which will be installed on Perseverance.
"Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration," says 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. Alex and his classmates are the Artemis Generation, and they’re going to be taking the next steps into space that lead to Mars. That inspiring work will always require perseverance. We can’t wait to see that nameplate on Mars."
The video below presents the Perseverance rover.