In December 2008, a young student named Clara Ma submitted a name for a project NASA then called the “Mars Science Laboratory.” With a 250 word essay, Clara suggested the name “Curiosity.”
The Curiosity rover has covered over 13 miles of terrain on the Martian surface. Seven years later, the car-sized robotic explorer is the face of science on the red planet.
This July, NASA’s next rover will launch. Today, NASA opened the contest for K-12 students to name the Mars 2020 rover, in partnership with Battelle and Future Engineers.
How the contest works
Students will submit a name and a brief essay advocating for their choice. You can read the complete rules here and submit your entry on the Future Engineers student portal here:
The contest begins today and runs until November 1, 2019.
Adults can help choose the winning name
The contest is still seeking adults to help select the winning name . Judges simply need to be a U.S. resident. The expected time commitment is just five hours.
How the Mars 2020 rover will advance science
The Mars 2020 rover is the first leg of a potential Mars Sample return campaign. The new rover brings a drill that can collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a “cache” on the surface of Mars. A future mission could return these samples to Earth.
The rover is more than 10 feet long and weighs more than 2,300 pounds. That’s around the size and weight of a very light compact car. It will pursue four science goals:
How to bring this to your classroom
On September 9 at 2 p.m. EST, Dr. Stephanie Johnson from Battelle, and Tanya Silva from Future Engineers provided a free webinar on activities to use in classrooms based around the naming competition.
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