NASA Narrows Down Mars 2020 Rover Names – Here Are the Semifinalists

Name Contest Mars 2020 Rover

This illustration depicts NASA’s next Mars rover, which launches in 2020. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

155 students from across the U.S. have been chosen as semifinalists in NASA’s essay contest to name the Mars 2020 rover and see it launch from Cape Canaveral this July.

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is one step closer to having its own name after 155 students across the U.S. were chosen as semifinalists in the “Name the Rover” essay contest. Just one will be selected to win the grand prize — the exciting honor of naming the rover and an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

“This rover is the first leg of a round-trip mission to Mars that will advance understanding in key science fields like astrobiology,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “This contest is a cool way to engage the next generation and encourage careers in all STEM fields. The chosen name will help define this rover’s unique personality among our fleet of Martian spacecraft.”

With more than 28,000 essay submissions received from K-12 students, NASA recruited volunteer contest judges from every U.S. state and territory. Nearly 4,700 eligible judge volunteers were selected from a diverse pool of educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts and were instrumental in selecting the semifinalists.

The next phases of judging will reduce the competition to nine finalists, and the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite name online in late January. The results of the poll will be a consideration in the final naming selection.

The nine finalists will talk with a panel of experts, including Glaze, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie and Clara Ma, who proposed the name for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, as a sixth-grade student in 2009. The grand prize winner will be announced in early March 2020.

For complete contest and prize details, including a full listing of the 155 state/territory semifinalists, visit Name the Rover Challenge. Below is a list of the semifinalist names for the Mars 2020 rover. (Use the previous link to get the names and locations of the students along with a description and meaning behind the name.)

  • A.L.I.E.T.T.
  • A.R.D.O.R.
  • AGE
  • AMoEBA
  • ARC
  • Abeona
  • Adeo
  • Advent Gnosis
  • Adventure
  • Aethon
  • Altan
  • Ambition
  • Ambition Tardigrada
  • Amica
  • Anaxagoras
  • Antoniadi
  • Apeiron
  • Apricity
  • Archí
  • Archimedes
  • Ares-Gigasis
  • Asclepius
  • Aspiration
  • Aspire
  • Asrik
  • Asteria Morpheus
  • Audacity
  • Aurum
  • Believer
  • Biorevelation
  • CAMR
  • CAPACITY
  • Calafia
  • Calypso
  • Catalyst
  • Clarity
  • Coeus
  • Courage
  • Cueillir
  • Cyano
  • D.R.E.A.M.
  • DIANA
  • Dari
  • Decipher
  • Determination
  • Dreamer
  • Dusty
  • Eirene
  • Elpis
  • Emergence
  • Endurance
  • Enlightenment
  • Examiner
  • Excelsior
  • Expansion
  • F.I.D.O.
  • FOOTPRINT
  • Fascination
  • Forager
  • Fortitude
  • G.R.I.T.
  • GRIT
  • Groundbreaker
  • Humanity
  • IM-Pression
  • INGENUITY
  • Ikenga
  • Imagination
  • Information Rover
  • Ingenuity
  • Innovator
  • Inquisitive
  • Inspiration
  • Inspire
  • Investigator
  • JEEVAN
  • L.E.A.D.
  • Little Tinker
  • MARV
  • Maria
  • Merian
  • Metis 2020
  • Monarch
  • Mornar
  • Mystery
  • Novus
  • Nunnehi
  • OPTIMISM
  • Oracle
  • Outlook
  • Perception
  • Perserva
  • Perseverance
  • Perspective
  • Picus
  • Possibility
  • Prayas
  • Promise
  • Propulsion Major Crater
  • Prospect
  • Prospector
  • Pyassa
  • RIDE
  • ROSE
  • Reconnoiter
  • Revelar
  • Seeker
  • Starlight
  • Summer
  • Tenacity
  • VITALITY ROVER
  • Valiant
  • Viatoris
  • Vision
  • Visionary
  • Vita Venator
  • Vitus
  • Wonder
  • Wonderment
  • Zoi

The naming contest partnership is part of a Space Act Agreement in educational and public outreach efforts between NASA, Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, and Future Engineers of Burbank, California.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages rover development for the agency. The Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch management.

Mars 2020 is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.

3 Comments on "NASA Narrows Down Mars 2020 Rover Names – Here Are the Semifinalists"

  1. I’m surprised Hope isn’t on the list. More than anything else, this mission represents hope: hope in finding life and launching humanity’s quest to colonize this planet.

  2. Very good set of names left. I’m so excited about this new rover.

  3. I like Clarity and Wonder

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