Perseverance is a new name for NASA’s next Mars rover. Thomas Zurbuchen is the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate. During a ceremony at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia on Thursday, he announced this name. Zurbuchen congratulated the seventh-grader Alexander Mather when he was at school. Alexander Mather submitted his winning entry to the essay contest of the ‘’Name the Rover’’ agency. From every U.S. state and territory, this agency got almost 28,000 entries from K-12 students.
As a winner of the agency “Name the Rover”, NASA select seventh-grade student as a winner of the essay contest. The entry of winning students ranked on top among all 28k entries.
Statement of Thomas Zurbuchen
“Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration,” said Zurbuchen. “Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it’s going to make amazing discoveries. It’s already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today – processing for launch. Alex and his classmates are the Artemis Generation, and they’re going to be taking the next steps into space that lead to Mars. That inspiring work will always require perseverance. We can’t wait to see that nameplate on Mars.”
In a long series of Red Planet rovers, Perseverance is the latest that is for school-age children. Mars exploring has been going on since 2012. The sojourner landed on Mars in 1997 while adding curiosity, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers in 2004. In every case, the name selection was based on a nationwide contest.
The Story Behind NASA’s Contest
This contest started Aug. 28, 2019, which resulted in Alex’s winning entry of Perseverance. However, from all over the country, almost 4,700 volunteers were selected as judges. All were educators, professionals and space enthusiasts from their background. To reduce this massive number, the judges reviewed the entries and narrowed the pool down to 155 semifinalists. Then after further narrowing, they selected several nine finalists. NASA allowed the public to show their interest and select their favourite volunteer within five days. Amazingly, more than 770,000 people logged-in and voted the favourite through the online portal. After all, NASA got the report of all results obtained from the public.
NASA’s Panel of Experts
For the nine finalists, a panel of experts was designed to talk with them. This panel of experts included
- Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division.
- Jessica Watkins, NASA astronaut.
- Nick Wiltsie rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. And,
- Clara Ma, as a sixth-grade student in 2009, named Curiosity.
How Mather Became Interested in Exploring Space?
If we talk about Mather, he was fonder of video games than space some two years ago. But the game changed in the summer of 2018 when he went to Space Camp in Alabama to visit it. Almost half a century ago, Saturn V rocket launched the Apollo astronauts to the Moon. And this first sight helped Mather a lot to set his direction towards space. He became a space enthusiast and starting visiting NASA.gov daily. Thus, he started absorbing the astronaut autobiographies and even the knowledge about 3D-printing flyable model rockets. Mather was sure to apply for NASA’s new Mars rover when the call went over for students.
“This was a chance to help the agency that put humans on the Moon and will soon do it again,” said Mather. “This Mars rover will help pave the way for the human presence there, and I wanted to try and help in any way I could. Refusal of the challenge was not an option.”
Travel to Florida
From now, Mather stays always in touch with this mission. With this achievement, Mather gets a chance to travel with his family to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Before its launching this summer, he can see how the rover begins its journey. In this competition, NASA grants the grand prize to Mather. However, NASA also is considering the high contributions of semifinalists. The entries of them were considered among the high rated contributors.
Exciting Offer for Semifinalists
“They came so far, and their expressive submissions helped make this naming contest the biggest and best in NASA history,” said Glaze, who also attended the event Thursday. “So, we decided to send them a little farther – 314 million miles farther. All 155 semifinalists’ proposed rover names and essays have been stencilled onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair and will be flown to Mars aboard the rover.”
NASA’s Perseverance Rover
Perseverance rover of NASA weighs just under 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms) as it’s a robotic scientist. Excitingly, the main ambition of the rover’s astrobiology is to find the marks of past microorganism life. JPL designed it for the agency. However, climate and geology characterization of Mars is also a part of this mission. For a future Mars Sample Return mission to Earth, they will also collect samples of Martian rocks and dust. Thus, it would open new and straightforward paths for humans to explore the Red Planet.
Statement of John McNamee
John McNamee is the project manager of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission at JPL. According to him, “When word went out during the naming event here at JPL, I took a moment to look around the auditorium. I saw all these dedicated men and women who for years have invested the full measure of their intellect and stamina into the most technologically advanced rover mission in history – and I saw a lot of smiling faces and high-fives. Perseverance? You bet that is a worthy name that we can be proud of as the first leg of a sample return campaign.”
Now, the current situation of Perseverance is towards the final steps. The ending checkouts are occurring at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They have targeted a time to approach the Mars’ Jezero Crater a little after 3:40 p.m. EST (12:40 p.m. PST) Feb. 18, 2021.
NASA’s Space Act Agreement
The partnership contest of rover was a part of the Space Act Agreement in public and educational outreach struggles. This agreement is between NASA, Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, and Future Engineers of Burbank, California. As an extra service provider, Amazon Web Services are there for the Mars 2020 naming contest. Due to it, Alex and his family can see the launch trip.
Infect, Mars 2020 is not a small deal but a big game. It’s a form of the great programs that include a mission to the Moon as well. It would also help humans to explore the Red Planet. By 2024, NASA ensures the safe landing of the first woman and then the man on the Moon. NASA will maintain a sustainable occurrence of humans on and near the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis program.
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