Perseverance is scheduled to launch in July 2020 and will land on Mars in February 2021.
The US space agency’s next rover for the Mars mission will be called Perseverance, a name picked out by the public from a list of shortlisted names submitted by schoolchildren on March 5. A nationwide naming competition organised by NASA last year attracted around 28,000 essay applications from schoolchildren across the United States. Alexander Mather, a 13 year old student from Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke Virginia, won the competition by suggesting the name Perseverance in his essay entry.
The rover has been designed to collect rocks from Mars and bring them back to the Earth for study. NASA has always hosted competitions to name all of its rovers on the Red Planet; some familiar names being Sojourner in 1997, Spirit and Opportunity in 2004 and Curiosity in 2011. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, during the name unveiling ceremony on March 5 said, “Perseverance is a strong word, it’s about making progress despite obstacles”.
In his essay, Mather compared the robot to human qualities. He pointed out that the previous names of the rovers were inspired by human qualities such as curiosity, insight, spirit and the ability to seize the opportunity and it was only right to add perseverance to the space exploration and beyond. He wrote, “We, not as a nation, but as humans will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future”. Formerly known as ‘Mars 2020’, the Perseverance rover had recently arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final preparations before the launch. The rover is set to launch between July 17 and August 5. Touchdown of the rover on the Red Planet is estimated to be by February 18, 2021. Scientists believe that this mission is the best approach to confirming the theories of life on Mars. According to recent reports, Perseverance will be landing in the Jezero Crater, a 25-mile wide area on Mars, starting off the $2.5 billion mission to find life on Mars.