The rover due to set down on Mars Thursday got its name, Perseverance, from a student in Virginia.
“I named the rover ‘Perseverance,’ and I hope that people in the future will look at this rover as a shining example of human perseverance for years to come,” said 14-year-old Alex Mather, whose idea beat out 28,000 other students across the U.S.
Alex, a student at Lake Braddock Secondary School, did some research to come up with the name, and somewhere along that process emerged a theme that became his obvious choice.
“One day I just realized that Mars missions are so hard and there’s incredible perseverance shown by both the mission and the rover itself, so why not just go with that one?” Alex said.
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The mission is aimed at a 28-mile-wide crater called Jézero. Scientists will look for signs of past life and samples of Martian material to jettison back to earth in about another decade. By then, scientists hope human exploration on the planet will begin.
Alex will be well into his career by then. He dreams of becoming an engineer at NASA after finishing high school and college.
“What I want to make sure is that whatever happens, I am in the place at NASA where I can do the most good and help the most,” Alex said.