The rover, which is temporarily dubbed Mars 2020, is scheduled to launch on July 17 and land on Mars’s Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. It will search for signs of past microbial life on the red planet and collect samples for a future mission that could return them to Earth.
In its “Name the Rover” essay contest, NASA invited students in kindergarten through 12th grade to propose names for the robot. That’s also how the last Mars rover, Curiosity, got its name.
After the contest began in August 2019, NASA received over 28,000 essays. Thousands of volunteer judges helped narrow the pool down to 155 semifinalists. On Tuesday, NASA announced the nine finalists.
Here’s the list, along with the grade level, full name, and home state of the student who proposed the name:
- 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
“Thousands of students have shared their ideas for a name that will do our rover and the team proud,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said in a press release. “Thousands more volunteered time to be part of the judging process. Now it is the public’s opportunity to become involved and express their excitement for their favorites of the final nine.”
NASA has opened a public poll where anyone can vote on their favorite name through January 27. The space agency will take the poll into consideration when it picks the winner, which is expected to be announced in early March.
The nine students whose proposals made the list of finalists will talk about their name ideas with a panel that includes Glaze, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, rover driver Nick Wiltsie, and Clara Ma, who named the Curiosity rover in a similar contest when she was in sixth grade in 2009.
The winning student will be invited to watch the new rover launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.