Alexander Mather, a seventh-grade student at Lake Braddock Secondary School, won an essay contest that determined the name of the Mars 2020 rover. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, congratulated Mather who won the Name the Rover contest, the space agency said Friday.
Mather's win renders the rover's name to be "Perseverance," following Curiosity that began Mars exploration in 2012. NASA launched the contest in late August 2019. Experts from different sectors evaluated the 28,000 entries and selected 155 for the semifinals.
"This Mars rover will help pave the way for human presence there and I wanted to try and help in any way I could," said Mather.
The space agency then opened voting to the public, narrowing the competition down to nine finalists who got the chance to talk with NASA officials, astronauts and the winner of the last rover-naming contest in 2009. Perseverance is scheduled to launch in July this year and begin exploration on the red planet's Jezero Crater in February 2021.