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7th Grader Names Mars Rover

Meet Perseverance, due to launch in July
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 5, 2020 3:33 PM CST

(Newser) – NASA's next Mars rover finally has a name. Perseverance, a six-wheeled robotic explorer, will blast off this summer to collect Martian samples for eventual return to Earth, the AP reports. The name was suggested by Alex Mather, a Virginia seventh-grader, as part of a naming contest for US schoolchildren. The US space agency announced it Thursday at Alex's school in Burke, Virginia, and he got to read his winning essay live on NASA TV. “We are a species of explorers and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere,” Alex wrote. “We, not as a nation, but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.”

NASA's associate administrator for science missions, Thomas Zurbuchen, noted that the space agency's Curiosity rover has been roaming around Mars since 2012, when Alex and his classmates were babies or little kids. "Perseverance and curiosity together are what exploration is all about," he said. Mather and his family won a trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to watch Perseverance get launched into space. The boy became enamored with space at age 11 while attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. That's when video games took a back seat. He said he wants to become an engineer and work for NASA.

(Read more Mars rover stories.)

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