Space is fascinating - and, admittedly, a little bit terrifying. While I’ve always had a sense of awe for space exploration and discovery, I wouldn’t say that it’s something that I ever paid particularly close attention to.
My best friend, Brian, however, absolutely loved space and everything associated with it. He followed space launches, read endless articles and content online, and had several space books strewn throughout his apartment. When Offworld Trading Company released some years ago right after I’d started at Stardock, he was overjoyed to play with me - even though we both sucked, haha!
The recent discussions surrounding the new 2020 Mars Rover and its upcoming launch this summer have had me remembering my friend fondly (I lost him to cancer in 2016) and have been a joy to read. Just like NASA did back in 2009 for Curiosity, they recently held another contest allowing school-aged children to suggest names for the new vessel.
Image credit: NASA
I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with kids for over 20 years, both professionally as a child care provider and program director, as well as on a volunteer basis at libraries and other youth events. One of my favorite things about kids is hearing them share their thoughts, which are often quite a lot deeper and more profound than most people assume. I’ve had many instances where a child’s insight - and, frankly, wisdom - has shocked and amazed me.
But, I digress. All of the above is basically to say that thousands of young writers across the country submitted short essays with their reasoning behind their name suggestions, and NASA had the difficult task of narrowing it down to 9 finalists. This Gizmodo article from January explains that NASA received over 28,000 name and essay submissions from K-12 students. A link to the top 9 considerations and their short essays is included in the article, and I highly recommend reading them - they’re a joy.
It's worth noting, by the way, that NASA's list of finalists was highly curated - we learned years ago that the Internet can't have nice things (I'm looking at you, Boaty McBoatface).
The winner of the contest and the new name for the Mars Rover are set to be announced today, which will be followed by a media teleconference at 3:30pm ET about the mission and the naming. Frankly, I’m excited to see what they choose! If you’re curious about the Mars Rover’s mission, you can check out NASA’s website and see what they have planned for this brand new adventure.
Photo credit: NASA