NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will officially kick off in July of next year, and there’s still plenty to do before that can happen. The spacecraft NASA will send to the Red Planet needs to be fully assembled and everyone needs to be checked and checked again to ensure there are no hiccups along the way. Oh, and the Mars 2020 rover still needs a name.
As it’s done in the past, NASA is enlisting the help of the public to come up with a moniker for its fancy new robot. Starting this week, NASA is requesting that K-12 students send in their name suggestions and short essays explaining why they think their nickname would be a good fit for the rover.
NASA will be collecting submissions from now until November 1st, and which point the pool of entries will be evaluated by volunteer judges and narrowed down. The decision won’t be entirely left up to a public vote, however, so there’s no risk that “Rovery McRoverFace” will end up claiming the crown.
“This naming contest is a wonderful opportunity for our nation’s youth to get involved with NASA’s Moon to Mars missions,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. “It is an exciting way to engage with a rover that will likely serve as the first leg of a Mars Sample return campaign, collecting and caching core samples from the Martian surface for scientists here on Earth to study for the first time.”
Once the entry period has ended, judges will select the best ones for a final poll. Eventually, just nine entries will remain and those will be open for public voting in January of next year. The winner will then be announced on February 18th, 2020, which is exactly a year before the rover is scheduled to touch down on the Martian surface.