KEY POINTS

  • NASA's Mars 2020 rover is now officially the Perseverance Rover
  • The name was chosen out of 28,000 entries from school-aged children
  • The winning name was sent in by 13-year-old Alexander Mather of Virginia

NASA's Mars 2020 rover is now officially named the Perseverance rover. The name was chosen out of the thousands of entries submitted by school-age children from all over the country.

Perseverance Rover

The rover's new name was announced during an event at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia where the associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, along with others from NASA, congratulated the 13-year-old seventh-grader who submitted the winning name.

"When word went out during the naming event here at JPL, I took a moment to look around the auditorium," project manager of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission, John McNamee, said. "I saw all these dedicated men and women who for years have invested the full measure of their intellect and stamina into the most technologically advanced rover mission in history – and I saw a lot of smiling faces and high-fives. Perseverance? You bet, that is a worthy name that we can be proud of as the first leg of a sample return campaign."

Mars Perseverance Rover Students chanting "Go Perseverance!" during the event to announce Mars 2020 rover's official name. Photo: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Perseverance, now, adds to the list of rovers that were named by school-aged children, along with Sojourner, Opportunity, and Curiosity. That said, the other 154 names that made it to the semifinals will also make it to Mars. According to the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, Lori Glaze, the 155 semifinalist names and essays have already been stenciled onto a silicon chip and will be sent to Mars aboard the rover.

Young Space Enthusiast

The winning name was submitted by Virginia student Alexander Mather, whose submission had to go through several stages of the competition before officially becoming the official name of the next rover.

Evidently, Mather’s interest was initially more on video games rather than space but, his first glimpse at a Saturn V rocket when he visited Space Camp in Alabama completely turned his attention to space exploration. Since then, Mather has been an avid space enthusiast, visiting the NASA website on a daily basis and reading about astronaut autobiographies.

"We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars," Mather wrote in his submission. "However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. Even faced with bitter losses such as Opportunity and Vikram 2, the human race will always persevere into the future."

Sure enough, his submission persevered through the contest and made it to the end, from the initial 28,000 entries to 155 semifinalists, nine finalists, a poll that logged over 770,000 votes from all over the world and an interview with a panel of experts.

"This was a chance to help the agency that put humans on the Moon and will soon do it again," Mather said. "This Mars rover will help pave the way for the human presence there and I wanted to try and help in any way I could. Refusal of the challenge was not an option."