Although the Mars 2020 rover has a variety of sophisticated drills, SuperCams, and sensors, the robotic explorer had always lacked something simple: A name.
In a live event from Lake Braddock Secondary School (LBSS) in Burke, Virginia on Thursday, NASA professionals announced that the Mars 2020 rover will be called “Perseverance.”
The Mars rover name was pulled from a list of suggestions from 28,000 students nationwide .
7th-Grade space enthusiast finds the New Mars Rover Name
After narrowing the field to a few choices — Clarity, Courage, Endurance, Fortitude, Ingenuity, Promise, Tenacity, and Vision — over 700,000 people around the world voted on their favorites.
The winning submission came from LBSS 7th grader and space enthusiast Alex Mather, a student who attended space camp at age 11.
"We meet many setbacks on the way to Mars," Mather said, as he read part of his submission essay to the auditorium's students on Thursday. "We as humans will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future."
NASA will invite Mather to the July 2020 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Mars 2020 mission aims to prepare rock and dust samples for a return to Earth, as well as pave the way for human exploration.
"Perseverance," set to land on Mars in February 2021, will use its 7 science instruments, 23 cameras, robotic arm, and sampling systems to autonomously explore terrain and examine the potential for life on the planet. (Learn more about the Mars 2020 mission .)
The Mars 2020 rover design is based on NASA's successful Mars Science Laboratory mission architecture, including its previous rover "Curiosity." The still-operational Curiosity, which successfully landed on Mars in 2012, got its name in 2009 from then sixth-grader Clara Ma after an essay contest of over 9,000 entries.
Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, reminded the crowd of students on Thursday that the Curiosity landing was an important first step in the difficult task of exploring a planet more than 100 million miles away from Earth.
"Curiosity got to the planet Mars when many of you were babies or little kids," Zurbuchen said. "Curiosity is what we need when we explore. When you look at the other side, what is there? Perseverance."
What do you think? Do you like the Mars rover name? Leave your comments and suggestions below.