Press Release

NASA Selects Partners for Mars 2020 ‘Name the Rover’ Contest, Seeks Judges

By SpaceRef Editor
June 25, 2019
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NASA has selected two partner organizations to run a nationwide contest giving K-12 students in U.S. schools a chance to make history by naming the Mars 2020 rover. An application to become contest judge also is now available online.


Battelle Education, of Columbus, Ohio, and Future Engineers, of Burbank, California, will collaborate with NASA on the Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” contest, which will be open to students in the fall of 2019. The student contest is part of NASA’s efforts to engage the public in its missions to the Moon and Mars.


The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. The spacecraft is targeted for a July 2020 launch and is expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.


“We’re very excited about this exceptional partnership,” said George Tahu, Mars 2020 program executive in NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “Contests like this present excellent opportunities to invite young students and educators to be a part of this journey to understand the possibilities for life beyond Earth and to advance new capabilities in exploration technology.”


By focusing the Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” contest on K-12 entries, NASA seeks to engage U.S. students in the engineering and scientific work that makes Mars exploration possible. The contest also supports national goals to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and help create the next generation of STEM leaders.


Battelle will connect students to the Mars 2020 mission through its portfolio of STEM networks. It will help recruit judges and students and also curate resources for teachers.


Future Engineers is an education technology company that engages K-12 students with innovation contests and challenges. The Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” contest will be hosted on Future Engineers’ web platform, which will serve as the online portal for entry submission and judging.


Judges Needed


K-12 students are not the only ones able to participate in the contest. NASA also is seeking volunteers to help judge the thousands of contest entries anticipated to pour in from around the country. U.S. residents interested in offering approximately five hours of their time to review student-submitted rover names may visit the Future Engineers website and register to be a judge:


The Mars 2020 Project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages rover development for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management. Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

For more information about the Mars 2020 rover, visit:

For more about NASA’s Moon to Mars plans, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.