NASA chose Battelle and Future Engineers of California to conduct the Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” contest that opens to students in Fall 2019. The student contest is part of NASA’s efforts to engage the public in its missions to the Moon and Mars.
The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds. It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. The spacecraft is targeted for a July 2020 launch and is expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.
Battelle will leverage its portfolio of STEM schools and networks to promote the contest, along with partners including the Conrad Foundation, National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and the STEM Next Opportunity Fund. Battelle and these partners will recruit students to come up with a list of proposed names for the rover. Judges, also recruited through the project, will select 30 rover names for NASA’s consideration. Battelle and its partners also will curate resources for educators to transform the competition into a nationwide learning experience, both in and out of school.
“We’re very excited about this exceptional partnership,” said George Tahu, Mars 2020 program executive in NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “Contests like this present excellent opportunities to invite young students and educators to be a part of this journey to understand the possibilities for life beyond Earth and to advance new capabilities in exploration technology.”
By focusing the Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” contest on K-12 entries, NASA seeks to engage U.S. students in the engineering and scientific work that makes Mars exploration possible. The contest also supports national goals to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and help create the next generation of STEM leaders.
Future Engineers is an education technology company that engages K-12 students with innovation contests and challenges. The Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” contest will be hosted on Future Engineers’ web platform, which will serve as the online portal for entry submission and judging.
The Conrad Foundation honors the legacy of Apollo 12 astronaut, Charles “Pete” Conrad, and his four-decade passion for innovation and entrepreneurship by giving high school students the opportunity to affect solutions on global or local issues through innovation, science and technology. The NSTA is the largest organization in the world committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. The ASTC is a network of more than 700 science and technology centers and museums and other organizations focused on increasing public understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among people of all ages. STEM Next is a venture philanthropy fund playing a critical role in bringing in- and out-of-school STEM learning opportunities to millions of children and closing the gender gap in STEM careers.
The Mars 2020 Project at JPL manages rover development for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management. Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
K-12 students are not the only ones able to participate in the contest. NASA also is seeking volunteers to help judge the thousands of contest entries anticipated to pour in from around the country. U.S. residents interested in offering approximately five hours of their time to review student-submitted rover names may visit the Future Engineers website and register to be a judge.
Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle makes the world better by commercializing technology, giving back to our communities, and supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. For more information, visit www.battelle.org.