Thursday, August 29, 2019

NASA invites students to help name the next Mars rover

Name the Mars 2020 Rover - Image by NASA
Since an impressive number of parents and educators read this blog, I wanted to share that K-12 students in public, private, and home schools across the United States are invited to enter the Mars 2020 Name the Rover essay contest. One grand prize winner will not only name the rover but be invited to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Name the Rover contest is part of NASA's efforts to engage students in the STEM enterprise behind Mars exploration and inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"This naming contest is a wonderful opportunity for our nation's youth to get involved with NASA's Moon to Mars missions," explained NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "It is an exciting way to engage with a rover that will likely serve as the first leg of a Mars Sample return campaign, collecting and caching core samples from the Martian surface for scientists here on Earth to study for the first time."

The Mars 2020 rover is a 2,300-pound robotic scientist that 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.

"Our Mars 2020 rover has fully taken shape over the past several months, as the project team installed various components onto the chassis: the computer brain and electronics; wheels and mobility system; robotic arm; remote sensing mast; the seven science instruments; and finally, the sample caching system," added George Tahu, Mars 2020 program executive. "All that's missing is a great name!"

To enter the contest, students must submit their proposed rover name and a short essay, no more than 150 words, explaining why their proposed name should be chosen. The essays will be divided into three groups, by grade level - K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 - and judged on the appropriateness, significance and originality of their proposed name, and the originality and quality of their essay, and/or finalist interview presentation. The deadline for all submissions is November 1.

52 semifinalists will be selected per group, each representing Michigan and the other states and territories. Three finalists then will be selected from each group to advance to the final round.

As part of the final selection process, the public will have an opportunity to vote online on the nine finalists in January 2020. NASA plans to announce the selected name on February 18, 2020, which is exactly one year before the rover will land on the surface of Mars.

For complete contest and prize details, visit

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