NASA is set to begin another road trip on Mars and on Thursday it plans to announce the name of the rover that's scheduled to begin that journey to the red planet as soon as July.
For years, the new robotic explorer has been known simply as "Mars 2020." But last year, NASA held a contest asking students from around the US to write an essay suggesting a name for the rover. Over 4,000 judges reviewed more than 28,000 entries to whittle the list down to 155 semifinalists. Another round reduced the choices to just nine finalists: Endurance, Tenacity, Promise, Perseverance, Vision, Clarity, Ingenuity, Fortitude and Courage.
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The space agency will announce Thursday which of the above adventurous appellations will be affixed to NASA's new robot before it goes to join its siblings, Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity on our neighboring planet.
The name will be revealed during a live event on NASA TV at 10:30 a.m. PT. You can bookmark this page and come back to watch here via the embedded video below:
The new rover will carry a suite of instruments designed to look for evidence of past microbial life, collect samples to be sent back to Earth in the future and gather data that will help enable eventual human exploration.
After launch in July or August, the newly named rover will travel to Jezero Crater, which is thought to have been covered by a lake about the same size as Lake Tahoe in the distant past. Landing is set for Feb. 18, 2021.
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