Find out which name, pitched by a Virginia seventh grader, NASA selected for its Mars 2020 rover

NASA announced Thursday the new name assigned to its Mars 2020 rover, and the Virginia seventh grader who proposed the moniker has been invited to watch the exploratory craft launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this summer.

Alexander Mather, 13, suggested – rather eloquently – the space administration consider naming the rover Perseverance.

“Curiosity. InSight. Spirit. Opportunity. If you think about it, all of these names of past Mars rovers are qualities we possess as humans. We are always curious and seek opportunity. We have the spirit and insight to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” Mather wrote in his nomination letter.

"But, if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing. Perseverance. We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. Even faced with bitter losses such as Opportunity and Vikram 2, the human race will always persevere into the future."

Perseverance will be launched in July and is scheduled to make its Mars landing in February.

According to CNN, students have assisted in the naming of Mars rovers since Sojourner debuted in 1997, followed by Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Science Mission Directorate's associate administrator announced the selection of Perseverance at Mather’s school on Thursday.

"Alex's entry captured the spirit of exploration," Zurbuchen said, adding, "Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it's going to make amazing discoveries. It's already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today: processing for launch.”

According to The New York Times, Perseverance is bound for Mars' Jezero Crater, a geographical feature which contains sediment from an ancient river delta that researchers are hopeful might yield evidence of past life on the Red Planet. Specifically, the rover will collect Martian soil and rock samples which are to be collected and returned to Earth by a future NASA mission.

Read more here and here.

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