COLUMBUS, Ohio (April 29, 2020)—Destined to become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet, NASA's Mars Helicopter officially has received a new name: Ingenuity.
Vaneeza Rupani, a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name and the motivation behind it during NASA's "Name the Rover" essay contest. The contest was organized by the space agency, Battelle, and Future Engineers.
"The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration," Rupani wrote in her contest submission. "Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe."
Battelle will help support Rupani’s travel costs to attend the launch of Perseverance, or a future Mars rover event.
Rupani's essay was among 28,000 submitted to NASA by K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory recommending names for the next Mars rover. Battelle’s portfolio of STEM schools and STEM networks promoted the contest, along with partners including the Conrad Foundation, National Science Teaching Association, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, and the STEM Next Opportunity Fund. Battelle and partners promoted the event through conference presentations, webinars for educators, social media and other challenges. NASA chose Battelle and Future Engineers to manage the naming contest through a competitive request for proposals in 2019.
In March, NASA announced that seventh-grader Alexander Mather's essay earned him the honor of naming the rover Perseverance. But with so many good essays, it seemed fitting to also choose a name for the helicopter that will accompany the rover to Mars. So NASA officials went back to the submitted essays to choose a name for the helicopter. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, made the choice for the rover's name, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine chose the name for the helicopter.
"Ingenuity encapsulates the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase for everyone when it takes off next year as the first aircraft on another planet’s surface," said Bridenstine. "It took a lot of hard and ingenious work to get the helicopter ready and then placed on the rover, and there’s a lot more going to be required. I was happy we had another great name from the naming contest finalists from which I was able to select something so representative of this exciting part of our next mission to Mars."
NASA's Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter are currently undergoing final assembly and checkout at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July and land at Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.
For more information about the mission, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/
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