NASA’s Mars 2020 rover has a mast and it has wheels now, but it still doesn’t have a name. That will change later this year when the space agency launches a nationwide rover naming contest open to US kids in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The Name the Rover contest will start accepting submissions this fall. NASA is partnering with Ohio STEM training nonprofit Battelle Education and California education technology company Future Engineers to run the contest.
The rover is scheduled to launch to Mars in mid-2020, which would put it on target for an early 2021 landing.
NASA is recruiting volunteer judges, who must be 18 or over and US residents, to help score contest entries. This task is expected to take about five hours.
NASA hasn’t yet laid out the rules for the naming contest, but we could look to other rovers for inspiration. NASA’s successful Mars rovers were named Sojourner, Opportunity, Spirit and Curiosity. Curiosity is the only one still in operation.
The European Space Agency recently named its own future Mars rover “Rosalind Franklin” for the DNA pioneer.
I’m not a K-12 student, but wouldn’t “Sally Ride” be an awesome name for a rover?