Members of the public have an opportunity to vote for their favorite name for NASA's next Mars rover. The nine candidate names were made possible by the "Name the Rover" essay contest, which invited students in kindergarten through 12th grade from across the United States to come up with a fitting name for NASA's Mars 2020 rover and write a short essay about it.
More than 28,000 essays were submitted after the contest began on Aug. 28 last year. A diverse panel of nearly 4,700 judge volunteers, composed of educators, professionals and space enthusiasts from all around the country, narrowed the pool down to 155 deserving semifinalists from every state and territory in the country.
"Thousands of students have shared their ideas for a name that will do our rover and the team proud," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington. "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 nine finalists (submission name, grade level, student name and state) are:
- Endurance, K-4, Oliver Jacobs of Virginia
- Tenacity, K-4, Eamon Reilly of Pennsylvania
- Promise, K-4, Amira Shanshiry of Massachusetts
- Perseverance, 5-8, Alexander Mather of Virginia
- Vision, 5-8, Hadley Green of Mississippi
- Clarity, 5-8, Nora Benitez of California
- Ingenuity, 9-12, Vaneeza Rupani of Alabama
- Fortitude, 9-12, Anthony Yoon of Oklahoma
- Courage, 9-12, Tori Gray of Louisiana
The poll opens online today and will remain open through Jan. 27 until 9 p.m. PST (midnight EST). The results of the poll will be a consideration in the final naming selection. For the poll, visit:
After the poll closes, the nine student finalists will discuss their rover names with a panel including Glaze, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA-JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie and Clara Ma, who earned the honor of naming the Mars rover Curiosity as a sixth-grade student in 2009.
The contest will conclude in early March, when the rover's new name - and the student behind it - are announced. The grand prize winner will also receive an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Scheduled to launch in July or August 2020, the rover will land in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.
The naming contest partnership is part of a Space Act Agreement in educational and public outreach efforts between NASA, Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, and Future Engineers of Burbank, California.
For complete contest and prize details, including a full listing of the 155 state/territory semifinalists, visit:
For information on NASA's Mars 2020 mission, visit:
JPL built and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.