What a time to be alive; not only have you got the chance to name a star system more many a dozen light-years away, but now there’s a contest to name NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.
The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds 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. The spacecraft is scheduled for a July 2020 launch and is scheduled to touch down on Mars in February 2021.
NASA is partnering with Battelle Education, of Columbus, Ohio, and Future Engineers, of Burbank, California, for the contest, called “Name the Rover.” The competition is open to any student from kindergarten to year 12 and will be open to enter in the fall of 2019. Plenty of time to start brainstorming some ideas.
“We’re very excited about this exceptional partnership,” said George Tahu, Mars 2020 program executive in NASA’s Planetary Science Division in a statement. “Contests like this present excellent opportunities to invite young students and educators to be a part of this journey to understand the possibilities for life beyond Earth and to advance new capabilities in exploration technology.”
By focusing the Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” contest on K-12 entries, NASA seeks to engage US students in the engineering and scientific work that makes Mars exploration possible. The contest also supports national goals to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and help create the next generation of STEM leaders.
A newly installed webcam offers the public a live, bird’s-eye view of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover as it takes shape at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. You can watch as JPL engineers and technicians assemble and test the rover before it embarks next year on one of the most technologically challenging missions undertaken yet.
NASA also is seeking volunteers to help judge the thousands of entries anticipated to pour in from around the country. US residents interested in offering approximately five hours of their time to review student-submitted rover names may visit the Future Engineers website and register to be a judge.
Finally, you can get your own Mars 2020 boarding pass with your name printed on it by signing up here. All submitted names are reviewed, approved and then etched onto a microchip. The microchip is placed aboard the Mars 2020 rover, which will land on Martian surface. Don’t forget to follow #Mars2020 on social media for all the latest updates.