The Next Mars Rover Will Not Be Named Rovey McRoveface
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Tomorrow, NASA's Mars 2020 rover will land its official name from one of these nine contenders.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
SHAPIRO: And courage.
CORNISH: Those names were finalists in a nationwide contest last year. Students from kindergarten to high school seniors were invited by NASA to submit suggestions. NASA's Becky McCauley Rench is an astrobiologist who's heading up the contest.
BECKY MCCAULEY RENCH: So as long as it was within 50 characters, it could have been in any language or could have been a phrase. It did have to follow NASA's rules for naming a mission. So it could not be a name of a previously flown or planned mission. It could not be something that was copyrighted.
CORNISH: And she says the space agency got more than 28,000 entries. A winner is set to be announced tomorrow. There is no prize, except the honor.
MCCAULEY RENCH: This individual will always be a part of the mission, will always be a part of the NASA family.
SHAPIRO: And as to those names, they are noble and serious, and maybe, well, a little bit boring considering those wide-open contest rules. But boring might be good enough. NASA did not want to repeat the mistake of letting the mob on the Internet have the final word. Four years ago, the British government sought names for a polar research ship and the result from voting online - Boaty McBoatface.
MCCAULEY RENCH: We saw every kind of name in the over-28,000 entries that came in from the K-12 students, and some of that creativity made its way into each round.
CORNISH: Rench did not tell us what the strangest ones were, but we looked through the semifinalists ourselves and found...
SHAPIRO: Dusty, Calypso, Grit, Possibility.
CORNISH: Mystery, Fido and Marv (ph).
SHAPIRO: No Rovey McRoveface (ph) - or if there was, it was in the early rounds. Whatever they call it, the rover in question is slated to be hurled toward the red planet later this year to a crater where water once flowed.
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