The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) 2020 Mars Rover is now in the penultimate stages of its development and NASA has been actively showing off the updates to it in the recent months. Earlier this month, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we saw the rover come to form after a few arms and six of its wheels were added to its mechanical structure.
Now, the rover needs a name, and for that, NASA has launched a campaign whereby kids can submit short essays and help name the explorer.
The submissions will be weighed against criteria set by the space administration agency and a handful of the shortlisted names will be pitted against each other in an online poll where the public will finalize the name for the Mars 2020 Rover in January next year. Vis-à-vis the naming campaign, the NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine said:
This naming contest is a wonderful opportunity for our nation’s youth to get involved with NASA’s Moon to Mars missions. It is an exciting way to engage with a rover that will likely serve as the first leg of a Mars Sample return campaign, collecting and caching core samples from the Martian surface for scientists here on Earth to study for the first time.
While George Tahu, the Mars 2020 Program Executive remarked:
Our Mars 2020 rover has fully taken shape over the past several months, as the project team installed various components onto the chassis: the computer brain and electronics; wheels and mobility system; robotic arm; remote sensing mast; the seven science instruments; and finally, the sample caching system. All that’s missing is a great name!
To elaborate, it is a nationwide campaign and will be divided into three categories based on grade levels K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. The competitors will be required to submit a short essay of no more than 150 words elucidating the rationale behind the choice of their proposed name for the rover. From the submissions, NASA will shortlist 52 candidates per each of the three groups—each candidate representing their respective state or territory—with the selection criteria being the appropriateness, originality, interview presentation, and significance of the suggested name.
From the 52, only nine will make it to the final round where they will be pitted against each other in an online poll that will start in January 2020 where the public will be able to vote on the name of their choice. NASA will then announce the selected name on February 18, exactly a year before the launch of the explorer's voyage on the red planet. The procreator of the name, who will be the winner of this contest, will be invited to see the launch of the rover from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July.
For more details regarding the specifics of the prize, visit the campaign's official page.