The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has drawn up a final list of nine names out of 155 names for its next Mars rover. Students, ranging from kindergarten to high school from across the US, had submitted more than 28,000 potential names for the rover that were later shortlisted to 155 semi-finalists by a panel of 4,700 volunteer judges.

NASA has picked three submissions in each of the three age categories — grades K-4, 5-8 and 9-12. And now, to select one out of the proposed nine names, NASA wants your help.

Mars rover
Representational image Pixabay

Online voting process

Interested people can cast their votes in favor of any one name out of the nine proposed names though an online voting process. In order to vote for the next generation of rover that will roam across Mars after its launch this summer, one has to log on to the official website (go.nasa.gov/name2020). The online voting process will remain open through January 27 until 9pm PST (midnight EST).

The final list of nine proposed names include:

  • Endurance, (Kindergarten to 4th grade, by Oliver Jacobs of Virginia)
  • Tenacity, (Kindergarten to 4th grade, by Eamon Reilly of Pennsylvania)
  • Promise, (Kindergarten to 4th grade, by Amira Shanshiry of Massachusetts)
  • Perseverance, (5th to 8th grade, by Alexander Mather of Virginia)
  • Vision, (5th to 8th grade, by Hadley Green of Mississippi)
  • Clarity, (5th to 8th grade, by Nora Benitez of California)
  • Ingenuity, (9th to 12th grade, by Vaneeza Rupani of Alabama)
  • Fortitude, (9th to 12th grade, by Anthony Yoon of Oklahoma)
  • Courage, (9th to 12th grade, by Tori Gray of Louisiana)

"Thousands of students have shared their ideas for a name that will do our rover and the team proud," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington.

"Thousands more volunteered time to be part of the judging process. Now it is the public's opportunity to become involved and express their excitement for their favorites of the final nine."

Final name to be announced in March 2020

NASA officials said in a statement that after the poll closes, the nine student finalists will discuss their rover names with a panel including Glaze, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA-JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie and Clara Ma, who earned the honor of naming the Mars rover Curiosity as a sixth-grade student in 2009.

The contest will conclude in early March when the rover's new name and the student behind it will be announced. The grand prize winner will also receive an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The currently unnamed rover, weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms), will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples of Mars for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Scheduled to launch in July or August 2020, the rover will land in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.

The new rover will also work on a mission to test several instruments that will use ground-penetrating radar for the first time, study weather science and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. The latest rover will join the team of NASA missions that are currently operating on and around Mars, including the Curiosity rover, the InSight stationary lander and the Mars orbiters.