NASA’s Mars rover for the 2020 mission finally has an official name: Perseverance. Alexander Mather, a seventh-standard student, submitted the winning entry to NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest. A total of 28,000 entries were received from students across the United States as part of the contest. This Mars rover will help pave the way for human presence there.
  1. NASA’s last rover sent to Mars was Curiosity, back in 2012. Other Mars rovers have also been named by school children, which includes Sojourner in 1997 and Spirit and Opportunity rovers (landed in 2004).
  2. The rover has a robotic scientist and weighs just under 1,043 kilograms. The Perseverance rover will be managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) and will hunt for signs of past microbial life on Mars.
  3. Perseverance will also characterise the planet’s climate and geology, and collect samples of Martian rocks and dust. NASA has plans for a future mission which could bring these samples back to Earth.
  4. The rover is currently undergoing final assembly and checkout at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  The rover is targeted to land on Mars’ Jezero Crater a little February 18, 2021.
  5. The Mars 2020 is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the planet. 
  6. NASA plans to put the next man and the first woman on the moon by 2024 and wants a sustained human presence on the Moon by 2028 with its Artemis program.