It wasn’t too long ago when a recent Mars rover, named Opportunity, ended its mission back in February 2019. People had very emotional reactions to the end of its mission, with plenty of video footage showing the end of its road. Now, NASA is planning its newest Mars rover mission, tentatively named Mars rover 2020, as its planned launch will take place on July 17th, 2020. It is set to land on Mars on February 18th, 2021.
The mission’s goal is to investigate the planet’s surface geological processes as well as its history and past habitability. Its design will be based on the Mars rover Curiosity and will incorporate elements that have already been created and tested. The rover can be described as a scientific robot, weighing in at 2300 pounds. The mission is set to find potential life on Mars through analyzing microbial life, geology, as well as climate.
While everyone waits for the announcement of the new rover’s name, NASA has announced that they are looking to an unlikely source for inspiration: K-12 students. In an effort to increase the public’s interest in STEM in general as well as space missions, NASA has partnered with STEM programs Future Engineers and Battelle Education in order to let students participate in a part of history: naming the new rover. The project is called “Name the Rover.”
George Tahu, the Mars 2020 program executive at NASA’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters, has said: “We’re very excited about this exceptional partnership. Contests like this present excellent opportunities to invite young students and educators to be a part of this journey to understand the possibilities for life beyond Earth and to advance new capabilities in exploration technology.”
The students will have until the fall of 2019 to submit their name entries. What name do you think will win?