Mars Rover Has a New Name

The Mars Science Laboratory rover, scheduled for launch in 2011, now has a new name, thanks to a sixth-grade student from Kansas. Twelve-year-old Clara Ma submitted the winning entry, “Curiosity” in the name-the-rover contest for schoolchildren, sponsored by NASA. “We have been eager to call the rover by name,” said Pete Theisinger, who manages the JPL team building and testing Curiosity. “Giving it a name worthy of this mission’s quest means a lot to the people working on it.”

For winning the naming contest, Clara gets to sign her name directly on the rover. But you can send your name to Mars with Curiosity, too.

Find out more about sending your name to Mars.

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,” said 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 Ma
Clara Ma

Ma 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,” Ma said. “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.”

“Curiosity is an everlasting flame that burns in everyone’s mind. It makes me get out of bed in the morning and wonder what surprises life will throw at me that day,” Ma wrote in her winning essay. “Curiosity is such a powerful force. Without it, we wouldn’t be who we are today. Curiosity is the passion that drives us through our everyday lives. We have become explorers and scientists with our need to ask questions and to wonder.”

Source: JPL

3 Replies to “Mars Rover Has a New Name”

  1. Pretty bland – distinctly average I reckon. Sounds like something a twelve year old would come up with…

    Why did the Mars program start picking such crap names? Sojourner was literally the best name for a rover the world has ever seen, or indeed, will ever see. It was evocative and mysterious – so well suited to the valiant little pathfinder rover.

    The names ‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’ were a massive let down – they aren’t awful but are just trying too hard to sound adventurous and exciting. It sounds like a damn publicity stunt designed to appeal to Joe-average-patriot. ‘Curiosity’ is the worst yet – just downright unimaginative. I should think that I’ll just keep calling it the Mars Science Laboratory – no fancy gold filigree; just scientific awesomeness.

  2. Hmmm….. and I thought naming it “Curiosity” was a stroke of brilliance, better than any of its predecessors. It sort of says a lot….
    ….now, here’s me hoping that there are no cats on Mars 😉

  3. Astrofiend Says..

    “Pretty bland – distinctly average I reckon. Sounds like something a twelve year old would come up with…”

    I like reading your comments – but this time – you come across as a right old misery guts.

    Curiosity is just fine I think,.

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