NASA unveils Mars 2020 finalist names
NASA has revealed the final nine names still in the running for the space agency's Mars 2020 rover – and none of them are "Rovy McRoverface." Selected from 28,000 essays submitted by US elementary and high school students, the nine names will now go to a public poll before the winner is selected.
Though it's been years in planning and building and is scheduled to launch in July or August 2020, NASA's Mars 2020 rover is still lumbered with a working name rather than the one it will bear when it lands in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet, slated for February 18, 2021. The unmanned, nuclear-powered rolling laboratory will seek out evidence of past or present microbial life on Mars, as well as collect geological samples that will be returned to Earth by future planetary missions.
To give the robotic explorer a proper name, on August 28, 2019 NASA; Battelle of Columbus, Ohio; and Future Engineers of Burbank, California, established the "Name the Rover" contest for students in kindergarten through 12th grade from across the United States. Over 28,000 essays were received, which were judged by a panel of 4,700 volunteers, consisting of educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts. It selected 155 semi-finalists and then nine finalists, with three from each age category.
According to NASA, the names were judged on the basis of the originality, appropriateness, and significance of the name, and the quality of the attached essay. Each finalist was also interviewed. Bonus points will be awarded for the highest public poll votes.
The nine finalists are:
Kindergarten to fourth grade
- Endurance, Oliver Jacobs of Virginia
- Tenacity, Eamon Reilly of Pennsylvania
- Promise, Amira Shanshiry of Massachusetts
Fifth to eighth grade
- Perseverance, Alexander Mather of Virginia
- Vision, Hadley Green of Mississippi
- Clarity, Nora Benitez of California
Ninth to 12th grade
- Ingenuity, Vaneeza Rupani of Alabama
- Fortitude, Anthony Yoon of Oklahoma
- Courage, Tori Gray of Louisiana
"Thousands of students have shared their ideas for a name that will do our rover and the team proud," says Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division. "Thousands more volunteered time to be part of the judging process. Now it is the public's opportunity to become involved and express their excitement for their favorites of the final nine."
The poll is located at Go.nasa.gov/name2020 and is open until 9:00 pm PST on January 27. The contest ends in early March when the winner and the winning name will be announced. The grand prize includes an invitation to watch the Mars 2020 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida.