NASA TO Announce Name Of Mars Rover On March 5 (Photo Credit: NASA)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is all set to unveil the name of the agency’s next Mars rover, currently known as Mars 2020, on Thursday. The naming event will ve streamed live via NASA Television at 1:30 PM (EST), followed by a media teleconference at 3:30 PM about the mission and the naming. In addition to airing live on NASA Television, the event will stream live on Facebook, Ustream, YouTube, Twitter, NASA Television, and the agency's website.
In January 2020, NASA had shortlisted nine finalists in the student naming contest for its next Mars rover. Students across the US, ranging from kindergarten to high school, submitted more than 28,000 potential names for NASA's Mars 2020 rover. A panel of 4,700 volunteer judges picked only 9 names that have gone for the online poll.
The naming contest partnership is part of a Space Act Agreement in educational and public outreach efforts between NASA, Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, and Future Engineers. Amazon Web Services is a prize provider for the Mars 2020 naming contest.
Mars 2020 is scheduled to launch towards the red planet in July next year. The rover is expected to land in an expansive impact crater called Jezero, where liquid water once flowed, about seven months (February 2021) after departing Earth. Mars 2020 will use a suite of high-tech tools to scout for signs of ancient alien microbes. The robot will have a laser blaster to analyse interesting rocks from afar. The rover weighs 2,314-pound (1,050-kilogram).
The Mars 2020 rover currently is at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida being prepared for launch this summer. Kennedy is responsible for launch management. The rover is part of a larger exploration program that includes missions to the Moon to prepare for human missions to the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis program.