In 2019, NASA held a contest asking K-12 students to name the space agency’s newest Mars rover. Alexander Mather of Springfield, Virginia, who’s now 14, submitted the winning entry last year. He suggested “Perseverance”—a name he thought captured the essence of human determination.
This month, Perseverance is scheduled to touch down on the Red Planet after traveling 471 million kilometers (293 million miles) through space for seven months. The six-wheeled robot’s mission is to study and collect rocks and soil. Scientists hope these samples will hold clues about whether life once existed on Mars.
So far, Perseverance has lived up to its name. Even the Covid-19 pandemic couldn’t derail the mission. “Perseverance means not giving up,” says Alexander. “I hope the mission and the name demonstrate to young people what humans can do if we stick it out and work together—we persevere.”