We’ve been calling the Mars 2020 rover “the Mars 2020 rover” because up until now “the Mars 2020 rover” is all we’ve had to go with.
But on Thursday, March 5, NASA will finally give the vehicle a name when it reveals the winner in a contest that saw entries from 28,000 students across the U.S.
Here are the nine finalists (shown with submission name, grade level, student name, and state):
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
Following an online poll where members of the public voted for their favorite name, each finalist recently discussed their suggestion with a panel of esteemed space-related experts who will select the winning name.
How to watch the announcement live
The wheel-based rover is described by NASA as a 2,300-pound (1,040-kilogram) “robotic scientist.” This summer it’ll set off on a round-trip mission to Mars where it’ll search for signs of past microbial life, gather samples, and conduct research that will aid possible human exploration of the planet.
The contest was part of a NASA initiative to engage students in the STEM enterprise behind Mars exploration and encourage an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
When the contest launched last year, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine described it as “a wonderful opportunity for our nation’s youth to get involved with NASA’s moon-to-Mars missions,” adding, “It’s 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.”
Besides the joy of having his or her suggestion selected, the winner will also be invited to watch the spacecraft launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020.