In a nutshell: Developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Perseverance tips the scales at near 2,300 pounds. It is undergoing final assembly and inspection at Kennedy Space Center with a planned launch date of July 17, 2020. Should everything go according to plan, the rover will touch down on the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater just after 3:40 p.m. Eastern on February 18, 2021.
NASA on Thursday announced that the successor to its Mars Curiosity rover, which has been perusing the Red Planet since 2012, will be called Perseverance.
The rover’s name came about through an essay contest that was open to K-12 students across the country. In total, some 28,000 entries were submitted and evaluated by nearly 4,700 volunteers. From there, 155 semifinalists were selected before the group was eventually whittled down to just nine finalists.
Seventh grader Alexander Mather from Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia, was ultimately chosen as the contest winner. In addition to forever being associated with NASA’s upcoming rover mission, Mather and his family will also get to attend Perseverance’s launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this summer.
NASA has relied on contributions from school-age children to name each of its four previous Mars rovers dating back to Sojourner in the late 90s.