Meet “Percy”—America’s Next Mars Rover!

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Out with “MARS 2020” and in with “Perseverance”—NASA Finally Reveals the Name of its Newest Mars Rover!

Today, NASA officials announced the name of the Rover-Formerly-Known-As-MARS-2020. As is tradition when naming Mars rover, the agency combed through 28,000 K-12 student essays before arriving at their decision. Now, after whittling down the pile to 155 semifinalists, the name “Perseverance” won out. And everyone’s already calling it “Percy” for short. 

Of course, NASA encouraged the public to vote for their favorite names from a list of nine finalists, which were divided into three age-group categories. 

That list included the following names:

K-4:

  • Endurance (Oliver Jacobs of VA)
  • PRomise, (Amira Shanshiry of MA)
  • Tenacity, (Eamon Reilly of PA)

5-8:

  • Clarity, (Nora Benitez of CA)
  • Perseverance, (Alexander Mather of VA)
  • Vision, (Hadley Green of MS)

9-12:

  • Courage, (Tori Gray of LA)
  • Fortitude (Anthony Yoon of OK)
  • Ingenuity, (Vaneeza Rupani of AL)

Although he considered the public input, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, made the final decision.

You can watch the Mars Rover naming ceremony here:

The New Mars Rover Mission

Engineers designed “Percy” to perform many different functions once it reaches the red planet. For example, it’s going to collect soil samples and analyze them for traces of life. Additionally, it will provide many samples for further examination. The data from those samples will help engineers make decisions while planing the first human trips to the red planet. 

An Excellent Name

Zurbuchen remarked that the new Mars rover’s name is fitting, and given NASA’s history with Mars Rovers, he’s not wrong. 

During the ceremony, Zurbuchen remarked, “There has never been exploration—never, never been history—without perseverance.” He added, “Perseverance is such a strong word. It’s about making progress despite obstacles.”

7th-grade student Alexander Mather submitted the winning name. He attends classes at Braddock Secondary School in Burke, VA. For winning NASA’s contest, he gets a free trip to Cape Canaveral, FL, to watch the rover he named leave Earth for the red planet. Additionally, Mather read his winning essay at the ceremony today. He said he plans to carry his love of space and science with him his whole life. 

“I want to go to college,” he said, “get a degree in some form of engineering or science-space engineering and astronautics sound good right now. And then, after that, go to work at NASA as an engineer.” Well done, Alexander! Well done. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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