NASA narrows down Mars 2020 rover names: Hello, Fido?

Anaxagoras, Asteria Morpheus and Marv are all in the running.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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NASA Mars 2020 rover
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NASA Mars 2020 rover

The Mars 2020 rover goes through testing.


NASA is definitely keeping an open mind when it comes to naming its Mars 2020 rover. It may end up being as simple as "Wonder" or as unusual as "Propulsion Major Crater."

NASA announced on Monday the list of semifinalists for its rover-naming contest, which was open to US kids from kindergarten through 12th grade. 

Volunteer judges narrowed down 28,000 essay submissions to 155 semifinalists. There are some repeats among the proposed names, with Tenacity, Determination, Ingenuity, Inspiration, Possibility, Perspective and Perseverance showing up more than once.

Some of the names take the form of creative acronyms, including Fido (Fearless Information Data Officer), Aliett (Ancient Life Investigator Of Extra Terrestrial Turf) and Ride (Revolutionizing Interplanetary Discoveries and Exploration). 

You can browse the entries, read the essays and start rooting for your favorite. Will it be Dusty (because Mars is dusty) or perhaps Ambition Tardigrada, a tribute to the miraculous powers of water bears?

Watch this: Meet the Mars 2020 rover launching this year

Judges will now whittle the semifinalists down to nine finalists. A public vote will help determine the rover's final name. NASA will announce the winner in March.

The rover is scheduled to leave Earth in July and arrive on Mars in early 2021. It will follow in the wheel tracks of previous NASA rovers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and the still-running Curiosity.

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

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