Catch 'em young: Seventh grade student names NASA's 2020 Mars rover 'Perseverance'

Alex will visit Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to witness the launch of the rover and will always be associated with this mission.


NASA has announced the name of its fifth rover — Mars 2020 — that will be going to the red planet in July this year

*drum roll, please*

It's going to be called 'Perseverance'.

A seventh-grade student, Alexander Mather, from Virginia, is the lucky child whose submission got picked from 28,000 entries.

In his submission essay, he wrote, “We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.”

 Catch em young: Seventh grade student names NASAs 2020 Mars rover Perseverance

Students chant, “Go Perseverance!” during the event to announce the official name of the Mars 2020 rover. Image credit: NASA

Around 4,700 people ranging from educators, professionals and space enthusiasts from around the country volunteered to review the submissions and help narrow the list down to 155 semi-finalists, and then nine finalists. The public then got the chance to take a dig at choosing a name. For five days, people all over the US voted 770,000 times for the name they liked.

Perseverance is the latest in a long line of Red Planet rovers to be named by school-age children, from Sojourner in 1997 to the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed on Mars in 2004, to Curiosity, which has been exploring Mars since 2012. In each case, the name was selected following a nationwide contest. The finalists also spoke to a team of expert panelists that included Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division; NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins; rover driver Nick Wiltsie at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California; and Clara Ma, who, as a sixth-grade student in 2009, named Curiosity.

It was a long journey for little Alex who submitted his 'Name the rover' essay back in 2019.

He will now get a chance to travel with his family to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to witness the rover begin its journey when it launches, and will always be associated with this mission.


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28,000 entries. One winner: Perseverance. 💫⁣ ⁣ With this new name, our Mars 2020 rover has now come to life! Chosen by middle school student Alex Mather, Perseverance helps to remind ourselves that no matter what obstacles we face, whether it's on the way to reaching our goals or on the way to Mars, we will push through. In Alex’s own words, ⁣ ⁣ “We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.” ⁣ ⁣ Set to launch July of this year, Perseverance will help us continue to push the boundaries of human exploration, while being our window into a new world. Welcome to the family.⁣ ❤️ ⁣ Image Credit: NASA ⁣ ⁣ #Perseverance #NASA #Mars #WelcomeHome #Explorer #LetsGo⁣

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But NASA has not forgotten the other finalists. They get to have their name stenciled on the rover that will go to Mars.

"They came so far, and their expressive submissions helped make this naming contest the biggest and best in NASA history," said Glaze in a statement. "So, we decided to send them a little farther – 314 million miles farther. All 155 semifinalists’ proposed rover names and essays have been stenciled 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.”

Perseverance currently is undergoing final assembly and checkout at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It’s targeted to land on Mars’ Jezero Crater on 18 February 2021.


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