Mars 2020 Rover Needs a Name, NASA Launches Competition

Mars 2020 rover rendering 1 photo
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech
There’s not much time left until NASA launches an extremely important mission to Mars, and work on the Mars 2020 rover is progressing rapidly.
What the rover doesn’t have yet is a name, and to fix that the American space agency announced this past weekend it will be asking students in grades K-12 for ideas on how to call the machine.

The competition will kick off next year after NASA finds a sponsor. Once that is out of the way, students willing to take part will have to propose the name for the rover and write an essay about why and how they chose that name.

"We've been doing naming contests since the very first Mars rover back in 1997," said in a statement Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA.

“Thousands of kids participate, and their enthusiasm for the contest and Mars is infectious."

The new Mars rover measures 10 feet long (3 meters), 9 feet wide (2.7 meters), and 7 feet tall (2.2 meters). Being the size of a small car, it is a bit bigger than the vehicles currently deployed on the planet.

It will be launched in 2020 aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket, with its primary mission being to prepare the way for human arrival.

It will do so by making geological assessments of its landing site, assessment of the habitability of the environment, searching for signs of ancient Martian life, and tracking natural resources and hazards.

As a secondary task, the rover will pick up samples from the Martian surface, which it will store in canisters placed at predetermined positions. These canisters will be picked up by a future mission and brought back to Earth for study.

Currently, NASA has only two active rovers on Mars, Opportunity, and Curiosity. The former might have been damaged beyond repair by a huge dust storm, while the latter is currently experiencing communication issues.
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Editor's note: How about Rover McRovinson?

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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