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The Mars rover has officially been named. Here's what it is.

NASA names Mars rover in anticipation for launch in July

By Angela Garrity, Guest blogger

It’s official — the Mars rover has been named “Perseverance”.  The robotic explorer can dust off its initial dub “Mars 2020” as it gets ready to flex its six wheels towards the anticipated launch in July.

Seventh grader Alexander Mather standing on stage to present his name for the NASA Mars Rover

NASA put out the call to action to name the Rover to school children in grades K-12. The kids never disappoint Earthlings with their creative naming conventions of rovers and the newest just follows perfectly in line with other historic monikers that include Viking, Pathfinder, Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, InSight and now Perseverance, Teslarata reported.  

Perseverance was chosen on March 5 by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington after the space agency received more than 28,000 entries from students all across the United States and territories.

The chosen name was submitted by middle schooler Alexander Mather, who two years ago was more interested in video games than space, NASA stated.

It’s truly been a long and steady road for both Mather and Perseverance. The contest was launched in August 2019 and consisted of more than 4,700 judges made up of educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts from around the country. They were tasked with reviewing submissions to help narrow the pool down to 155 semifinalists. Once they whittled that group down to nine finalists, the public had five days to weigh in on their favorites, logging more than 770,000 votes online, with the results submitted to NASA for consideration.

Not only does Mather have naming rights to the rover that is part of the Artemis Project, but he also receives an invitation to travel with his family to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to witness the rover begin its journey when it launches this summer. 

The nine semi-finalists aren’t being dismissed either. NASA also is acknowledging their valuable contributions being considered, as well.

"They came so far, and their expressive submissions helped make this naming contest the biggest and best in NASA history," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, who also attended the event Thursday. "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."

Keep reaching for the stars, kids. Your minds are lightyears ahead.

Related: How NASA will go from the Moon to Mars by 2030

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