After countless suggestions from students enrolled in American schools, NASA has finally given a name to its Mars 2020 rover: Perseverance. The probe is scheduled to launch onboard of a rocket in July or August of this year, and will analyze the surface of the Red Planet in order to find signs of microbial life, and more.
Alexander Mather, a 13-year-old, was the one to name the rover after it won an essay contest NASA has organized. His entry was, according to the space agency, the most catchy one, among 28,000 of the competition.
“Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s science mission directorate. “Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it’s going to make amazing discoveries. Alex and his classmates are the ‘Artemis generation,’ and they’re going to be taking the next steps into space that lead to Mars.”
‘Refusal of the Challenge Was Not an Option’
Mather said that his curiosity in space was a new one, having been immersed in video games until he visited a space camp two years back.
“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 human presence there, and I wanted to try and help in any way I could. Refusal of the challenge was not an option.”
NASA’s Perseverance rover weighs more than a tonne and, besides looking for signs of life on Mars, it will analyze the planet’s climate and geology, as well as gather samples of Martian rocks and dust for a future sample return mission to Earth.
The rover’s launch frame time is set for between July 17th and August 5th, with an intended touch down of February 18th of 2021. The expedition will take place during one Martian year, which is 687 Earth days.