• NASA's Mars 2020 rover will soon get a name
  • The 'Name the Rover' essay contest drew submissions from over 28,000 K-12 students
  • Out of 28,000, there are now 155 semifinalists
  • Semifinalist names include 'Archimedes,' 'Little Tinker,' 'Calypso' and 'Wonder'

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will finally have a name soon, thanks to the thousands of students who sent in their submissions to NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest. In the next phase of the competition, the public will also have a chance to vote for the rover’s name.

‘Name The Rover’ Essay Contest

Although we’re already used to calling NASA’s robotic scientist "Mars 2020 rover," it is actually still unnamed. To name it, K-12 students from all over the country were encouraged to submit their name suggestions along with a 150-word essay to explain why.

It took nearly 4,700 volunteer judges to scour through over 28,000 essay submissions from students all over the country, and now the name suggestions have been narrowed down to 155 including “Humanity,” “Tenacity,” “Excelsior,” and “Starlight.”

The next phase of judging will further reduce the 155 to just nine finalists. By late January, members of the public will also have the chance to pick their favorite name out of the nine. The results of the public voting will be taken into consideration for the final judging when the finalists will also talk to a panel of experts including NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie, Planetary Science Division Director Lori Glaze, and the person who chose the name for the Curiosity Rover when she was just a sixth-grade student back in 2009, Clara Ma.

Apart from having the honor of naming the Mars 2020 rover, the grand prize winner will also be invited to watch the spacecraft launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July.

The grand prize winner will be announced by early March 2020.

STEM Fields

The Name the Rover essay contest is a part of NASA’s efforts to engage the public in the missions to go the Moon and Mars. Further, it is also an excellent way to fuel children’s interest in STEM career options.

“This rover is the first leg of a round-trip mission to Mars that will advance understanding in key science fields like astrobiology,” said Glaze. “This contest is a cool way to engage the next generation and encourage careers in all STEM fields. The chosen name will help define this rover's unique personality among our fleet of Martian spacecraft.”