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Naming NASA's Next Mars Rover
 
Clara Ma posing for a photo next to the Mars rover, Curiosity Click image for larger version
Clara Ma, winner of the Mars Science Laboratory naming contest.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Clara Ma receiving her certificate Click image for larger version
JPL Mars Science Laboratory engineer Suparna Mukherjee presented Clara Ma with a certificate for her winning entry, "Curiosity."
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial lifeClick image for larger version
MSL Rover: Curiosity
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rover that touched down on Mars on August 6th was named by a 6th-grader from Sunflower Elementary School in Lenexa, Kansas. The Name NASA’s Next Mars Rover contest resulted in thousands of essays submitted by students aged 5 through 18 from all throughout the United States. The winning essay, “Curiosity,” was written by 12-year-old Clara Ma.

Clara Ma’s entry was chosen from over 9,000 proposals entered into the competition, which was conducted in partnership with Disney-Pixar’s animated film “WALL-E.”

Ma began her winning essay by explaining the power of curiosity: “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.” She went on to say that “Curiosity is such a powerful force. Without it, we wouldn’t be who we are today... We have become explorers and scientists with our need to ask questions and to wonder.”

In an interview with NPR, Clara spoke about what landing a rover on Mars meant to her. When asked why she thought NASA needed a Mars mission, she responded, “I just think it's always good to learn new things, to move forward. And Curiosity isn't just a rover that's going to be studying things up in Mars. It's not just metal and titanium and a body and wheels. It's actually people's emotions and labor and hard work and love and care, and it's all put together in that rover, and it brings people together from all across the world.”

As her prize for winning the ‘Name the Rover’ competition, Clara Ma won a trip to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where she had the opportunity to sign the rover as it was being constructed. Furthermore, nine finalists had the opportunity to provide messages to be placed on a microchip that would be mounted on the rover itself.

Curiosity will be prowling the Red Planet for two years, searching for microbial life and the presence of water.

For more information about the mission and the contest winner, please visit:

http://www.nasa.gov.msl