NASA is planning to send another rover to Mars next year. However, it still hasn’t found an appropriate name for it. NASA’s robot will survey the Martian soil and rocks for signs of life, but before that, the agency needs to pick judges who will help name the 2020 Mars rover.
NASA won’t search for the judges alone. The space agency employed two partner companies that will run a contest across the nation searching for the perfect name for the rover. The organizations will host a contest that will give K-12 students in schools across the U.S. the opportunity to name the 2020 Mars rover. One of the companies also posted a form which allows you to become a judge for the contest, and it’s available here. The space agency said on its website that the contest will be open to students starting in the fall.
The organizations cooperating with NASA on this venture are Battelle Education of Colombus, Ohio and Future Engineers of Burbank, California. NASA’s venture is not the first effort to include the public in decision-making regarding space exploration.The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is also hosting voting to determine suggested names for newly-discovered exoplanets.
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The rover that hasn’t been named yet is a robotic scientist weighing over 2,300 pounds. It will search for evidence of earlier microbial life, which could shed light on whether Mars hosted life long ago in its history. The spacecraft will launch in July 2020 and will reach the Red Planet in February 2021 if everything goes well.
“We’re very excited about this exceptional partnership,” Mars 2020 program executive George Tahu of NASA’s Planetary Science Division said in a statement. “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.”
Battelle will connect students to name the 2020 Mars rover through its STEM networks. That will enable the recruitment of judges and allow students to curate resources for their teachers. If you are interested in astronomy, want to help name the 2020 Mars rover and can invest approximately five hours of your time into reviewing student-submitted entries, you can visit the Future Engineers website and submit a form to express your interest in the contest.