Student Names New Rover

A Lenexa, Kansas, sixth-grader wins NASA’s search for a new name for its Mars Science Laboratory Rover, set to launch in 2011.


| June 12, 2009



Clara Ma put her curiosity to work to name the new Mars rover for NASA.

Clara Ma, a sixth-grader from Lenexa, Kansas, won the NASA contest to name the next Mars rover.

courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Washington – NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, scheduled for launch in 2011, has a new name thanks to a sixth-grade student from Kansas. Twelve-year-old Clara Ma from the Sunflower Elementary school in Lenexa submitted the winning entry, "Curiosity." As her prize, Ma wins a trip to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where she signed her name directly onto the rover as it was being assembled.

A NASA panel selected the name following a nationwide student contest that attracted more than 9,000 proposals via the Internet and mail.

The panel primarily took into account the quality of submitted essays. Name suggestions from the Mars Science Laboratory project leaders and a non-binding public poll also were considered.

"Students from every state suggested names for this rover. That's testimony to the excitement Mars missions spark in our next generation of explorers," says Mark Dahl, the mission's program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Many of the nominating essays were excellent and several of the names would have fit well. I am especially pleased with the choice, which recognizes something universally human and essential to science."

Clara decided to enter the rover-naming contest after she heard about it at her school.

"I was really interested in space, but I thought space was something I could only read about in books and look at during the night from so far away," Clara says. "I thought that I would never be able to get close to it, so for me, naming the Mars rover would at least be one step closer."





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