WASHINGTON -- NASA is issuing a last call to the nation's youth for entries in a contest to name the agency's next Mars rover.
The naming contest, in partnership with Disney-Pixar's WALL-E, invites ideas from students 5 to 18 years old and enrolled in a U.S. school. The contest began two months ago. Entries will be accepted until midnight Jan. 25 (Eastern Time).
Entrants should submit essays explaining why their suggested name for the rover is the right fit. In March, the public will have an opportunity to rank nine finalist names via the Internet as additional input for judges to consider. In April, NASA will announce the winning name.
The Mars Science Laboratory rover will be larger and more capable than any craft previously sent to land on the Red Planet. The rover will check to see whether the environment in a selected landing region ever has been favorable for supporting microbial life and preserving evidence of life. The rover also will search for minerals that formed in the presence of water and look for several chemical building blocks of life. NASA is currently building and testing the rover, which will launch in 2011.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Science Laboratory for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
For contest information and rules visit: http://marsrovername.jpl.nasa.gov.
Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington