Red rover, red rover, send a name for Mars 2020 right over! NASA seeks help from students nationwide to find a name for its next Mars rover mission – part of its efforts to engage students in the STEM enterprise behind Mars exploration. Starting Tuesday, K-12 students in U.S. public, private and home schools may enter the Mars 2020 Name the Rover essay contest. One grand-prize winner will name the rover and be invited to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Mars 2020 rover is a 2,300-pound robotic scientist that will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for its return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.
To enter the contest, students must submit by Nov. 1 their proposed rover name and an essay of no more than 150 words explaining why their proposed name should be chosen. The essays will be judged by grade level – K-4, 5-8 and 9-12 – on the appropriateness, significance and originality of the proposed name; the originality and quality of the essay; and/or the finalist interview presentation.
Fifty-two semifinalists will be selected per grade group; three finalists per grade group will advance to the final round; and the public may vote online on the nine finalists in January 2020. NASA plans to announce the selected name Feb. 18, 2020 – one year before the rover will land on the surface of Mars. To read the complete details, visit
NASA is also seeking volunteers to help judge the thousands of contest entries that are expected. U.S. residents 18 years and older who are interested in offering about five hours of their time to review submissions should register to be a judge at futureengineers.org/registration/judge/nametherover.