3 Georgia students in the running to name NASA’s new Mars rover

3 Georgia students in the running to name NASA’s new Mars rover
In this handout provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the "Mojave" site, where its drill collected the mission's second taste of Mount Sharp. The scene combines dozens of images taken during January 2015 by the MAHLI camera at the end of the rover's robotic arm. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Mars’ Curiosity rover will soon get a brand-new rover pal -- and some lucky kid will have the honor of naming the new spacecraft.

NASA is set to launch the next Mars rover in July. The new, currently unnamed rover weighs more than 2,300 pounds and will search for signs of life, collect samples from the red planet and study the planet’s climate and geology.

And like the Curiosity, the Opportunity and the Spirit before it, the new rover needs a name fitting of such a big mission.

Content Continues Below

NASA's "Name the Rover" competition invited students from all over the U.S. to pitch a moniker for the new robotic scientist.

"This contest is a cool way to engage the next generation and encourage careers in all STEM fields," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division. "The chosen name will help define this rover's unique personality among our fleet of Martian spacecraft."

A total of 155 students across the U.S. were chosen as semifinalists -- three from each state and each representing a different grade level. In Georgia, the three semifinalists from Hiram, Marietta and East Dublin are vying for a chance to name the rover.

Here are their entries:

DETERMINATION

Mason McCullough

Hiram, Ga.

Determination means that you believe in something so strongly that you will work your hardest to achieve no matter what dangers or obstacle comes your way. This NASA rover should be named Determination because it moves past the missions of Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. With this rover, we further the goals the other rovers have begun. This rover can adjust its landing and will search for life, and test oxygen production. These steps are important in our quest for humans to set foot on Mars.

My parent’s generation was the about the moon landing and shuttle missions, but for my generation, it is important that we explore space again. Mars exploration is important because of the knowledge gathered from the probes and rovers will allow us to travel to Mars and possibly live there. I am determined to be one these pioneers, and with hard work, I will.

ORACLE

Lydia Nasmyth

Marietta, Ga.

Mercury, Apollo, Hera, and Odin. All are NASA. All are mythology. So, what's next? In the case of NASA's next rover, the answer is, "Oracle."

An oracle, in most mythology, was a person, place, or even an object, that delivered prophecies telling the future. The new Mars rover will search the planet for habitable places, preparing Mars for its near future with humanity. Oracle also ties directly to the theme of mythology from previous missions. The name Oracle is not overly complicated, and it has an easy, direct meaning that also relates to the way the machine will work.

Imagine, the Oracle could be what goes into space preparing Mars for human exploration, the way that ancient oracles were supposed to predict trial and tribulation in their world's future. And you could be a part of that.

ABOENA

Alexandra Smith

East Dublin, Ga.

Abeona is the Roman goddess of outward travel. With the 2020 Mars Rover hoping to test new theories for the push to get a man on Mars, it is crucial that our rover make the full trek to Mars. While having the rover return would be spectacular, with today’s advanced technologies we can gather readings from Mars without having the rover itself return to Earth. To get a man to the moon we called upon Apollo to safely carry our brave souls to new grounds and to make history. Opportunity and Apollo have been powerful names to the world of space exploration. Abeona will push to grant new opportunities by taking soil and oxygen samples so that in the near future we will be able to get a man to the Red Planet. As Apollo carried men to the moon Abeona will carry our future of space exploration to Mars.

The next phases of judging will reduce the competition to nine finalists, and people can vote for their favorite name online in late January.

The winner will get an invitation to see the spacecraft launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.