He’s gonna do his best.
NASA has been assembling a new Mars rover to replace the lost Opportunity for a little over a year now, but it was still lacking a very important component: a name. To remedy this, NASA held a contest, accepting name suggestions from all over the United States. The winning name has been chosen, and we finally have a moniker for the Mars 2020 rover: Perseverance (or “Percy” as many have taken to calling it).
The name was submitted by one Alexander Mather, a seventh-grader from Virginia. Apparently, young Alexander has been a space-head since he saw the Saturn V rocket at space camp when he was eleven. “I immediately knew space was something I was doing for the rest of my life,” he said.
Alexander wrote quite the stirring essay for his submission to the contest. “Curiosity. InSight. Spirit. Opportunity. If you think about it, all of these names of past Mars rovers are qualities we possess as humans. We are always curious, and seek opportunity. We have the spirit and insight to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
“But, if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing. Perseverance. 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. 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.”
Thomas Zurbuchen, ASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s associate administrator, spoke highly of Alex and his submission. “Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration,” he said. “Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it’s going to make amazing discoveries. It’s already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today — processing for launch.”
Perseverance will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida some time this coming July, and is estimated to touch down on Mars next February. Alexander will be brought to Cape Canaveral to watch the launch in person.