NASA announced Thursday that seventh grader Alexander Mather was the winner of the “Name the Rover” contest that received at least 28,000 entries from students in kindergarten through 12th grade “from every US state and territory.”
While the contest began nearly a year ago on August 28, 2019, it all came to an end on Thursday when NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, revealed Mather had won during a celebration at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia.
In addition to “Perseverance” being the new name of the six-wheeled Rover ahead of its takeoff this summer, Mather was able to read his winning essay in front of his fellow students during a live broadcast on NASA TV.
“We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere,” Mather said in his essay. “We, not as a nation, but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.”
The space agency’s release noted that this is not the first time a nationwide contest has been used to name a rover destined for the red planet.
“Perseverance is the latest in a long line of Red Planet rovers to be named by school-age children, from Sojourner in 1997 to the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed on Mars in 2004, to Curiosity, which has been exploring Mars since 2012,” explained NASA in its March 5 release.
Amazon Web Services - a sponsor of the competition - will pay for Mather and his family to attend the summer launch of Perseverance. As of now, the Mars rover is set to land on the red planet’s Jezero Crater around 3:40 p.m. EST on February 18, 2021, according to the NASA news release.