Mar 5, 2020
Transcript: NASA Reveals Name of Next Mars Rover
NASA announced the name of the latest Mars rover today, which could possibly begin its mission this summer. NASA opened up the name selection process to students around the US, narrowing down to nine finalists: Clarity, Courage, Endurance, Fortitude, Ingenuity, Promise, Perseverance, Tenacity and Vision.
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To find out which name has been selected from the thousands of entries submitted by students all across the country. Now is everyone here excited to hear the name of the Rover? It sounds like it. Now we’ll be back here soon to show you where the name will go on the Rover but for now let’s head on over to a school somewhere in America to find out the name of NASA’s next Mars Rover. Deanne Bell is one of our partners in the contest and she is joining us live right now. Deanne, can you tell us what’s going on at the school?
Deanne Bell: (00:41)
I would love to, Raquel. You guys over at JPL are incredible. You are sending us to all kinds of places in our solar system. It is beyond impressive and exciting. And speaking of exciting, this is the big day where we find out the name of NASA’s next Mars Rover. This journey started back in August. We had 28,000 entries, 4,700 judges and it’s all brought us right here to learn that winning name. I am in Burke, Virginia at Lake Braddock Secondary School. Lake Braddock, can you make some noise?
Deanne Bell: (01:28)
There’s definitely some excitement. So, my name is Deanne. I’m with Future Engineers, one of the partner organizations that put on this contest, and I bet we have some future engineers in this room and some future scientists and some future explorers. And guess what, we are the Artemis generation. We are sending humans back to the moon. We are exploring Mars and I cannot wait to find out the name for the next robotic Explorer headed to Mars. So without further ado, I’m going to bring out two very important people.
Deanne Bell: (02:03)
We have two of NASA’s top leading scientists. We have Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, also known as Dr. Z. He’s in charge of all of science at NASA and he has a personal preference for the sun and also the planet Mercury. But he’s also accompanied by Dr. Lori Glaze back here. She’s in charge of all the planetary science at NASA and she loves volcanoes, but not the ones here, the ones in our solar system. So without further ado, I’m going to let Dr. Z take it away. Thanks.
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen: (02:32)
Thank you so much. Thank you, Deanne. And hi everybody here at the high school, at JPL, everywhere around the world. We’re making history right now. We’re making history right here. Today, we are naming a spacecraft that will go to Mars and to make measurements we’ve never made before. It will be the first leg off the first round trip of humanity to Mars, bringing back these samples that tell us secrets about life itself. And the name of this mission is … Perseverance.
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen: (03:45)
You know curiosity got to planet Mars when many of you were babies or little kids. And curiosity is what we need when we explore. It pulls it forward. It’s about that motivation to explore beyond what’s there. Curiosity is always part of exploration. But when you flip over that metal, you look at the other side, what is there? It’s perseverance. There has never been exploration never, never be making history without perseverance. Perseverance and curiosity together are what exploration is all about. Perseverance is a strong word. It’s about making progress despite obstacles. Everybody who’s ever tried building hardware,, I tried knows how important it is and it will be important for this Rover today. But as we go forward, space exploration is hard and it’s difficult. It has been difficult in the past, but it’s so exciting and we need everybody to engage. We need the Artemis generation in this room, all of you and many more in the United States and beyond. We go together to Mars together with the United States and with our international and commercial communities.
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen: (05:13)
And the Perseverance Rover will lead the way to the next generation of exploration, exploration that at this moment in time we haven’t even thought of. But we need you to help. It could be any of you to be part of this and I’m so excited to be here today with all of you, Lori, take it away.
Dr. Lori Glaze: (05:40)
Thanks. Thanks, Thomas. All right. Thank you, Thomas. And now what we’ve been waiting for it is now my great honor to invite the winner of the Mars Rover naming contest to come to the stage. Please join me in a big round applause for your classmate who submitted Perseverance as the winning name. Come on, Alex Mather. Come to the stage.
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen: (06:05)
Alex, come in the middle.
Dr. Lori Glaze: (06:05)
Thank you so much. I don’t know what camera I’m looking at. I’m just guessing.
Deanne Bell: (06:14)
All right. Who wants to hear the essay? All right. So you’re mic’d up, right?
Alex Mather: (06:35)
Deanne Bell: (06:35)
All right. Alex, do you want to read us your essay?
Alex Mather: (06:37)
I do. If I can unfold this paper. Curiosity, insight, spirit, opportunity. If you think about it, all of these names of past Mars rovers are qualities we possess as humans. We’re always curious and seek opportunity. We have the spirit and insight to explore the moon, Mars and beyond. But if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing, perseverance. We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars.
Alex Mather: (07:22)
However, we can persevere. We not as a nation, but as humans will not give up. The human grace will always persevere into the future.
Deanne Bell: (07:33)
All right. Amazing. Why don’t you go ahead and take a seat. We’re going to have a moment now, a little Q&A with Alex.
Dr. Lori Glaze: (07:47)
So congratulations again, Alex.
Alex Mather: (07:51)
Dr. Lori Glaze: (07:51)
This is a really tremendous achievement. I enjoyed meeting you. I got to be one of the four panelists that did the interviews with the nine finalists and so it’s great to finally get to meet you in person. And when we had our interview, we talked about a lot of different things, but maybe you could share with the group here today, the folks in the room and the folks that are watching us online, why it is that you love space so much?
Alex Mather: (08:18)
That’s actually real easy. When I turned 11, my parents decided to send me to space camp as a birthday present. And originally I didn’t know what to expect, but I don’t know if any of you have ever been to space camp, but as you’re driving up to the campus, there’s this building that is blocking the view of the model of the Saturn V that’s just on campus. And as you drive up to the campus, you see the capsule of the Saturn V slowly rise above the building and 11-year-old me saw that and lost his mind. I immediately knew that space is something I was doing for the rest of my life.
Dr. Lori Glaze: (09:04)
That is just a great story. I love that. It’s inspirational and a lot of us at NASA were in your shoes when we were your age and were inspired to go on and become engineers and scientists and explorers. And it took for all of us an enormous amount of perseverance to get to where we are today. So we really appreciate the name that you’ve suggested for our next Mars Rover. So just one more question. Can you share with us what your goals are as a young person who wants to make your own mark in exploration?
Alex Mather: (09:38)
So let’s start a little bit more short term goals, high school diploma. Get that first, get those two years of language, do those. And after that, I want to go to college, get a degree in some form of engineering or science space engineering and astronautics sound good right now. And then after that, go work at NASA as an engineer.
Dr. Lori Glaze: (10:08)
Perfect. Sounds like a great plan. Thanks, Alex.
Alex Mather: (10:12)
Deanne Bell: (10:12)
I think they support that plan. All right, Alex, now do you have any questions for Dr. Z or for Lori?
Alex Mather: (10:20)
I do. So could you tell me more about the Artemis Program?
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen: (10:24)
So we’re really excited about Artemis. We’ve been in low earth orbit with the International Space Station the whole duration of your lives, if you’re students here for over 18 years. There’s always been Americans up there together with our international partners and it’s time to go beyond. We want to go to the moon with that next generation of explorers and the new technologists go to the moon, learn how to stay there sustainably, not to stay there forever, but to learn how to go to Mars.
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen: (10:54)
Because even though we’re sending a Rover this year to Mars, we really want to send people and bring them back safely. So that is the ultimate goal of the Artemis generation.
Alex Mather: (11:05)
All right. And in 10 years, most of the people in this room will be out of college and looking for a job. What are going to be the cool new NASA missions?
Dr. Lori Glaze: (11:17)
I love that question. So let me tell you about some of the cool things we’ll be doing in about 10 years when you all get out of college. Number one, we talked about the Mars 2020, the Perseverance Rover is going to be collecting samples. It’s the first leg of the first round trip from earth to Mars and back to bring those samples back to earth. And so we are hoping in the 2030s that we will be bringing those samples back here to earth. That’ll be incredibly cool.
Dr. Lori Glaze: (11:44)
We also have a mission right now that we’re beginning work on called Dragon Fly, which is going to be a mission to send an Octocopter drone to the surface of Titan, which is a moon of Saturn. Really cool place. And that one’s supposed to launch in ’26 and it’s supposed to land on Titan in 2034 and so that’s going to do some.
Dr. Lori Glaze: (12:03)
[inaudible 00:12:00] to land on Titan in 2034, and so that’s going to do some incredible science on the surface of Titan. Going even further than that, we’re thinking about missions that could potentially go to Uranus or Neptune. There’s a really important opportunity at the end of the 2020s, where all of the planets line up just right, that we could actually go visit Uranus and Neptune at the same time, so that’s a really cool thing that we’re looking at. We’re thinking about missions to go land on the surface of other icy moons like the moon of Europa, that’s around Jupiter, that’s got ice and we think a liquid ocean beneath. We’d like to land on the surface there or Enceladus, another moon of Saturn, where we think there might be liquid oceans and maybe even, potentially, signs of life inside those liquid oceans. So there are some incredibly amazing opportunities that are coming in the 2030s. So we look for all of you guys to join us at NASA at that time.
Deanne Bell: (12:53)
I was just going to say that, and guess what? NASA needs you and NASA needs all of you, and NASA needs all of you. It’s quite exciting. We are all exploring this universe. It’s amazing. All right, so next we have a very special guest, someone from your school district. Lake Braddock, I’d love for you all to give a warm welcome to superintendent, Dr. Scott [Graybrand 00:13:18] .
Dr. Scott G.: (13:17)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is a great day for Alex, let’s give Alex a round of applause. This is a great day for Lake Braddock Secondary School, give all of yourselves a round of applause. This is a great day too, for Fairfax County public schools, it’s a great day for NASA, it’s a great day for the United States of America. We have always been leaders in space, and the next generation, the Artemis generation, is right here happening at Lake Braddock Secondary. You are the next generation for space, how about that? I want to just acknowledge a few special guests that are with us today, what you all have done. Alex, it’s you, but it’s also this school and all of your peers creating an atmosphere to celebrate steam, science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, that makes the imagination to come up with the name for the next Mars rover possible.
Dr. Scott G.: (14:39)
I have three school board members with me, Megan McLaughlin, please stand, Laura Jane Cohen, and Rochna Sizemore Heizer. We also have our region assistant superintendent, Mr. J. Pearson, our assistant superintendent for information technology, Mary Beth Looflass. Also, I know he’s here, your principal, Dr. Daniel Smith, Dr. Smith. I also know I won every one of you, because I learned that Science Olympiad, this is not an accident that it’s here at Lake Braddock, Science Olympiad at the middle school was first and third at the regional competition, team fusion and team vision. Please stand if you are on either of those two teams, team fusion and team vision stand and be recognized, stay standing, stay standing. Where’s your sponsor by the way, the sponsor, wave and be recognized. Give her a big round of applause. Just like Alex said about going to space camp plants the seed, your teachers here at Lake Braddock, this school is planting the seed in you, right? Planting the seed in you to do whatever you want, to dream whatever you want, to be whomever you want. I hope now as you go out, and I think Mars is one of those you can see in the evening sky. It’s one of the planets, I think it’s Mars and Venus. That’s about as good as I can remember from high school days that now when you look out in the sky, you’ll not just think of Mars, you will think of Lake Braddock Secondary School and forever now this school will have a role, will have a lasting presence on another planet in our solar system. So it is a great day for Lake Braddock Secondary School. Thank you again, NASA for all you’ve done, and Alex, congratulations again on a job well done. We’re proud of you.
Dr. Lori Glaze: (17:02)
Thank you sir.
Dr. Scott G.: (17:02)
Congratulations, Alex. Thank you. Thank you.
Deanne Bell: (17:03)
Thank you so much. All right, we have all kinds of VIPs here today. I’m also told we have a representative from Senator Mark Warner’s office, [inaudible 00:00:17:22], are you here, can you stand up? Thank you so much for [inaudible 00:17:27]. We have a very special surprise, Virginia Senator Mark Warner has provided a pre-recorded message, so we’re going to go and watch that.
Senator Mark Warner: (17:39)
Hi there. I’m Virginia Senator Mark Warner, and it’s an honor to be able to say a few words to you all today. First off, I want to congratulate Alex on being chosen to name the next rover that will get to explore the surface of Mars. As you all probably know, Alex was chosen from more than 28,000 students who submitted essays and threw their hat in the ring to get the name this rover. Upon landing in Mars, perseverance will help NASA scientist answer key questions about the conditions on Mars and the potential for life on that planet. Pretty cool. I think this is a great achievement that speaks both to Alex’s potential and the great quality of Virginia’s public school teachers.
Senator Mark Warner: (18:29)
I hope this experience will inspire everyone to learn more about NASA’s mission and to work hard in school because as our world changes, we’re going to need more young people who are great at science, technology, math and engineering to help fill the jobs of the future. In fact, if you work hard, I’m confident that one day you’ll get to not only name the rover, but design it and help ensure it’s safe landing on Mars and beyond. Once again, congratulations to Alex and everybody in the school on this awesome achievement. Keep reaching for the stars.
Deanne Bell: (19:11)
All right and now you’re going to have a bit of a shout out moment. At the beginning of this contest, NASA did an all call for organizations to help run the Name the Rover contest. Two organizations stepped up and volunteered their time, their effort, their expertise to help them make all of this happen. Those organizations are [Batel 00:19:28] Education and Future Engineers. Batel does so many things, they’ve helped from recruiting judges to engaging teachers, they’ve been there every step of the way. Future Engineers is my organization, we’re an education technology company that specializes in student contests and challenges and we really played a role in the online portal to manage all of those 28,000 entries.
Deanne Bell: (19:50)
But we also have some pretty awesome prizes associated with this challenge. Of course, the ultimate prize is naming the next Mars rover, but I’m excited to say that Alex and his family will also be sent all the way down to Cape Canaveral, Florida to watch that rover launch in July. Providing that trip, we have Amazon Web Services here as the prize provider and I’m excited to have Jamie Baker from Amazon, come on sick. Alex, why don’t you come over, Alex’s family, why don’t you come on up?
Thank you so much. This is huge, this is [inaudible 00:20:32].
Deanne Bell: (20:42)
Congratulations. You guys excited?
Deanne Bell: (20:46)
Yeah? Thank you so much Jamie. We appreciate it. Have you guys been to a launch before?
Alex’s family: (20:52)
Deanne Bell: (20:53)
No? You haven’t been to a launch? I’m from Cape Canaveral originally, so you’re going to love it too. You’re going to love it. So I’m going to have it go ahead and have you guys come back off stage. How are you feeling?
Deanne Bell: (21:08)
Did you get any sleep last night? He found out last night by the way.
So I tried, I tried my best, but my brain said no.
Deanne Bell: (21:23)
All right. There’s an entire assembly right now and a live TV show because of you and your name. Feels good, right?
Deanne Bell: (21:31)
You’re changing space history and we are so proud to have you here. I mentioned prizes before, there’s one more prize that we want to present here on stage and it’s going to be presented by a very special guest. This guest has had a role in inspiring students all across the country teaching them about Mars, about space exploration, and about the rover, and its name is Rovi.
Oh, wow. Oh, hello. Come on, come here.
Deanne Bell: (22:16)
Come on, don’t be shy. Don’t be shy.
Oh, dank. Hello. Are you going to come forward?
Deanne Bell: (22:17)
So why don’t you go ahead and grab the prize that Rovi’s given you?
All right. Thank you Rovi.
Deanne Bell: (22:24)
The fun fact about this prize is, this is actually the semi-finalist prize packet. So in this contest there were 155 semi-finalists, nine finalists, but there were 28,000 entries and those entries were phenomenal. I think, you know, best of all that the competition was fierce.
Deanne Bell: (22:41)
It was tough. So we just want to take a moment to acknowledge every single student that submitted an entry in this contest. Your enthusiasm for space is phenomenal and we just encourage you to keep going, keep going. That passion has a home in this family of space exploration. So, come on Rovi, don’t be shy, let’s go to the front of the stage. Everyone wave hi.
Come on, you can do it. Wow. That’s not the effect I thought it would have. It’s [inaudible 00:23:16] by the way. Good job, Rovi.
Deanne Bell: (23:30)
All right. One more time, lets hear it for Perseverance. Al right. Now we’re going to go back to you [JPL 00:11:44].
All right. Thanks, Diane. What does everyone here think of the new name? Yes. I can feel your energy right now. All right. With us here, is Jennifer [inaudible 00:24:03].
… Us here is Jennifer Trosper. She is the mission manager for Perseverance and she’s going to tell us a little bit more about where the name will go on the Rover.
Jennifer Trosper: (24:12)
Thanks, Raquel. Well, it is awesome to be here with the Mars 2020 team for the unveiling of the name of the Rover. How many of you think that is an amazing name? Perseverance.
Jennifer Trosper: (24:34)
And how many of you think Alex is awesome? Yeah.
Jennifer Trosper: (24:44)
All right. So now finally, now that everybody knows the name, I can open this package here. In fact, this is the Rover name plate. It’s a flight spare. It’s not the actual one that’s going to go on the Rover, but it’s just like it. The Rover name plate, we made several because even we didn’t know what the Rover’s name was going to be. So this is the Rover name plate with Perseverance on it.
Jennifer Trosper: (25:25)
I really like the font selection, it’s very spacey. This is actually, it functions on the Rover’s robotic arm as a rock guard. My robotic arm people are sitting here saying … So when the Rover drives, we want to make sure that the cables that are underneath this don’t get damaged. And you can see the Rover’s robotic arm in this picture, and you can see the nameplate on the arm. Now I’m going to put this here. Weighs about 100 grams. And I think we have some video of the nameplate being made. You can see there it is, it’s in a shop that was local to Los Angeles. One of the things that they did is they covered this with a thermal black anodized paint and then they etched in laser the name Perseverance. And you’ll see that in the video.
Jennifer Trosper: (26:15)
Now I love the name Perseverance for the Rover. It’s awesome for the Rover. This Rover is going to have challenges. Those of us who’ve taken rovers to Mars before know that Mars always throws different things at you, and you figure it out, and the Rover persists and perseveres. And so one of the things I also really like about this name though, is that Perseverance is a characteristic of the team behind the Rover. All of you people in this room, all of the people in the overflow room, all of the people across this country who spent the last nearly decade getting us to having a Rover in Florida, right now, in 2020. You guys have persevered and now I need you to help with something.
Jennifer Trosper: (27:00)
So over 3000 people, and perseverance means overcoming challenges, overcoming obstacles, and moving forward to get to your mission success. Over 3000 people, how many problems and challenges have you guys had to overcome in the last decade to get us to where we are today? Numbers, I need numbers. I know it’s more than 100 thousand.
Jennifer Trosper: (27:26)
A million. I hear a million. Any other numbers? Anybody want to hold …
Speaker 1: (27:30)
Jennifer Trosper: (27:31)
Okay. Something squared. The E to the U to the UDX. Okay, thank you. I knew that JPL would offer me something like that. Okay, so we have overcome, you have overcome so many challenges. This team has so much perseverance and we will continue to have perseverance. So in honor of you guys, there’s a video here that tells a little bit about some more folks on the team.
Katie Stack Morgan: (27:58)
When you go to another planet. There’s just so much potential for making brand new discoveries.
Michelle Tomey Colizzi: (28:02)
I’m actually putting something together that’s flying to Mars.
Al Chen: (28:05)
One way or another, you’re going to be on the ground in seven minutes. We want it to be there safely.
Heather Bottom: (28:10)
My name is Heather Bottom and I’m helping prepare the spacecraft that will fly our next Mars Rover to the Martian surface.
Diana Trujillo: (28:16)
My name is Diana Trujillo and I work with robotic arms to collect samples on Mars.
Al Chen: (28:19)
I’m Al Chen and I lead the landing team for Mars 2020.
Michelle Tomey Colizzi: (28:22)
My name is Michelle Tomey Colizzi.
Moogega Stricker. : (28:23)
My name is Moogega Stricker.
Eric Aguilar: (28:25)
My name’s Eric Aguilar.
Katie Stack Morgan: (28:26)
My name is Katie Stack Morgan.
Michelle Tomey Colizzi: (28:27)
And I’m helping to protect the next Mars Rover.
Katie Stack Morgan: (28:30)
Mars 2020 we’ll be seeking signs of ancient life in the rock record of Mars.
Diana Trujillo: (28:34)
What we’re trying to do is to Rover on the surface of this unknown planet.
Moogega Stricker. : (28:38)
Eric Aguilar: (28:39)
Process the tubes as they come back.
Katie Stack Morgan: (28:40)
To look for things that we call bio signatures.
Moogega Stricker. : (28:42)
So that eventually we can bring those samples back to earth and determine for the very first time, did life exist on Mars.
Al Chen: (28:49)
But also where could it be preserved for four more billion years for us to find it.
Heather Bottom: (28:54)
Before the Rover actually flies, you have to make sure that everything works properly with the flight software and the hardware.
Al Chen: (28:59)
We hit the atmosphere going 12, 13 thousand miles per hour.
Moogega Stricker. : (29:01)
After the journey through space, through the vacuum.
Michelle Tomey Colizzi: (29:04)
We try to test all of our hardware to the environments that we would see.
Eric Aguilar: (29:08)
So that’s where a lot of the testing happens behind me.
Diana Trujillo: (29:11)
We spend lots and lots of hours here testing everything.
Moogega Stricker. : (29:14)
It gets put in an oven. It gets put in various chambers and clean rooms.
Michelle Tomey Colizzi: (29:18)
What we can see over here is the stack spacecraft.
Diana Trujillo: (29:21)
The robotic arm is actually right behind me.
Moogega Stricker. : (29:24)
This is the place where the magic happens.
Katie Stack Morgan: (29:25)
This is the Mars yard and this is where our rovers practice driving over rocky terrain.
Moogega Stricker. : (29:29)
There are hundreds of people that have to come together and build a spacecraft.
Heather Bottom: (29:33)
You kind of have to put those different pieces together and make sure that those pieces all are going to work.
Diana Trujillo: (29:37)
And I feel like such a lucky person to be working on this.
Michelle Tomey Colizzi: (29:41)
Everything that you’re touching, and all this hard work that you’re putting in, the long hours.
Eric Aguilar: (29:44)
In 20 years the children will be reading this and their science book.
Heather Bottom: (29:47)
It feels great.
Jennifer Trosper: (29:53)
Great job, team. And now we have a special surprise. We weren’t sure we were going to be able to do this today, but because of the hard work of our team members, our JPL team members in Florida, we have a picture we’d like to share with you. Not only has the Rover name been selected, but it has been placed on the flight Rover robotic arm.
Jennifer Trosper: (30:37)
There’s another close up image. There’s our closeup image. And as you guys all know when we stow the robotic arm, what we look at with our cameras is Perseverance, so we will never forget as we’re driving around Mars. Now getting the name plate on the Rover isn’t the last thing we have to do before launch, but it’s one of the last things. I don’t know, you guys know a few more things we have to do here in the front row? Ray says two. Okay. Two things. All right.
Jennifer Trosper: (31:05)
Right now in the next two weeks we’re finishing out the functional testing. We want to test everything, make sure it works before we send it off to Mars. Then we’ll start to stow. We’ll start to stow the Rover, we’ll put it inside the descent stage, we’ll encapsulate it inside of the back shield and the heat shield. Add the cruise stage. It will be fully stacked. We’ll put it on the Atlas launch vehicle and we’ll be ready for a July 17th launch. All right, back to your Raquel.
Thanks Jennifer. And now it is going to launch. Perseverance is going to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida this summer, and it will land on Mars February 18th of 2021. And now that we have a name, we have launched the Rover’s and new social media accounts, so get your phones out. You can follow @NASAPersevere to see its journey to the red planet. And for more information about the mission, you can also visit nasa.gov/mars2020 and mars.nasa.gov/mars2020. Now, before we get back to the school, I know you have it all in you. On my count, can we all say go Perseverance? Ready? Three, two, one.
That was beautiful. Now let’s hear the students.
Deanne Bell: (32:32)
All right. I think we might be able to scream louder than that. So I want to say thank you to JPL. Thank you to Lake Radick Secondary School. And from all of us, thank you for watching. And we’re going to get ready to yell. You guys ready? Let’s go explore Mars. With …