Washington, 6 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) – NASA’s next rover to head to Mars will be named Perseverance, a moniker submitted by a student who won a nationwide contest, the US space agency announced on Thursday.
The rover, until now referred to as Mars 2020, is set to launch in July and land on the red planet in February next year.
NASA said Alexander Mather, a seventh grade student from Virginia, won its “Name the Rover” competition, which kicked off last summer and drew 28,000 entries.
“Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, said in a news release.
“Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it’s going to make amazing discoveries. It’s already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today – processing for launch,” he said.
The student will be invited to watch the spacecraft launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, NASA said.
Perseverance is the latest in a long line of Mars rovers to be named by school-age children, including Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity.
The rover is designed to search for signs of past microbial life on the red planet and will also study its climate and geology.