NASA announced a contest, which will give American school kids a chance to make history, by naming two rovers being launched to explore Mars.
The robotic explorers are part of NASA's upcoming Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission. The twin rovers will land at two different locations on the mysterious red planet to explore the surface in search of answers about the history of water on Mars.
The NASA "Name the Rovers" contest is a collaborative effort between NASA and the LEGO Company. The LEGO Company will manage the contest in conjunction with The Planetary Society. The contest provides students with the unique opportunity to suggest a name for each of the two Mars-bound rovers, temporarily known as MER-A and MER-B. The rovers are scheduled to launch in May and June 2003 respectively. The rovers are scheduled to land on Mars in January 2004.
"We are very excited about providing students with an opportunity to actively participate in the next mission to Mars, " said Dave Lavery, Program Executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters. "We are eagerly looking for some really creative and innovative ideas from the students as they compete to name the next Mars rovers and become part of history."
"The LEGO Company is dedicated to furthering hands-on discovery, playful learning, and the boundless frontiers of imagination. Space exploration also embraces these qualities, which is why the LEGO Company is so pleased to partner with NASA," said Brad Justus, LEGO Senior Vice President. "By involving children actively in the Mars mission, through the 'Name the Rovers' contest and with other related activities, we hope to help excite and inspire the next generation of space explorers, " he said.
The NASA "Name the Rovers" contest is open to students 5 to 18 years of age who attend a U.S. school and are enrolled in the Fall 2002 school season.
Submissions must include suggested names for both rovers and a 50-500 word essay justifying why the students believe the names should be chosen. The contest has many educational benefits and encourages students to do research for their essays and to learn more about Mars and space exploration.
The contest is open for submissions through January 31, 2003. NASA will announce the contest winners prior to launching the rovers in the spring of 2003.
Information about the contest is available at: http://www.nametherovers.org
Information about the Mars Exploration Rovers is at: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov