NASA announced Mars 2020 Rover’s new name, Perseverance, during a live event on Thursday, March 5. Perseverance was submitted by high school student Alexander Mather, who attends Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia.
“We are always curious and seek opportunity, but if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we have missed the most important thing, perseverance,” Mather wrote on his essay.
Besides the joy of having his suggestion selected, Mather will also be invited to watch the Perseverance launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020. Mather has hopes to be in the space sector one day and said that he hopes to get a degree in space engineering and work at NASA as an engineer.
NASA opened up a contest back in August for students to submit potential names of the Mars Rover. There were over 28,000 entries from all over the country, 158 semi-finalists, and nine finalists. The nine finalists included names like Tenacity, Promise, Vision, Ingenuity, and Endurance, but in the end, Perseverance made the cut.
“Perseverance is a strong word about making progress despite obstacles,” said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, the Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. “The Perseverance rover will lead the way to the next generation of exploration.”
Perseverance will launch on July 17, 2020 on a round-trip mission to Mars with an expected landing date on Mars of February 2021. It will prepare Mars samples and pave the way for eventual human exploration of the Red Planet. The rover took over a decade to construct and has seven instruments, 23 cameras, a robotic arm, and state-of-the-art mobility systems.
Perseverance will be the fifth rover to set foot on Mars. Past Mars rovers include Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. Sojourner explored the planet for three months in 1997 and snapped photographs and took chemical measurements. Spirit was active from 2004 to 2010, and Opportunity was in commission from 2004 until mid-2018. Both of those rovers explored Mars searching for signs of past life and studied the history of climate and water sites on Mars.
The Curiosity rover is still roaming Mars and is currently studying an area of the Gale Crater called Mount Sharp, a mountain rising 5.5 km (3.4 miles) above the floor of the crater.
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