St. Therese Academy – Student FINALIST in NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Naming Contest

St. Therese Academy CONGRATULATES student NORA BENITEZ (8th grade), chosen as one of nine finalists in NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Naming Contest. Now members of the public have an opportunity to vote for their favorite name for NASA’s next Mars rover. Contestants submitted a name for the rover and wrote a short essay about it. More than 28,000 essays were submitted. A diverse panel of nearly 4,700 judge volunteers, composed of educators, professionals and space enthusiasts from all around the country, narrowed the pool down to 155 deserving semifinalists from every state and territory in the country.

These were narrowed down to nine finalists:
Endurance, K-4, Oliver Jacobs of Virginia
Tenacity, K-4, Eamon Reilly of Pennsylvania
Promise, K-4, Amira Shanshiry of Massachusetts
Perseverance, 5-8, Alexander Mather of Virginia
Vision, 5-8, Hadley Green of Mississippi
Clarity, 5-8, Nora Benitez of California
Ingenuity, 9-12, Vaneeza Rupani of Alabama
Fortitude, 9-12, Anthony Yoon of Oklahoma
Courage, 9-12, Tori Gray of Louisiana

The poll opened online Jan. 21st and will remain open through Jan. 27 until 9 p.m. PST (midnight EST). TO CAST YOUR VOTE IN THE POLL, visit:

After the poll closes, the nine student finalists will discuss their rover names with a panel including Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA-JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie and Clara Ma, who earned the honor of naming the Mars rover Curiosity as a sixth-grade student in 2009.

The contest will conclude in early March. The grand prize winner will receive an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds. It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate & geology, collect samples for future return to Earth & pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Scheduled to launch in July or August 2020, the rover will land in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.