NASA reveals the official name of its Mars 2020 rover

As first promised earlier this week, NASA has officially announced the name for the rover it has thus far referred to as 'Mars 2020.' Going forward — and in keeping with the trend established by its past Martian rovers — this new rover is named 'Perseverance,' and it'll launch for the Red Planet later this year. The winner of the rover naming contest was a middle school student from Virginia.

NASA received more than 28,000 entries during its Name the Rover contest, which invited students in the US to submit their name suggestion and a related essay on why the name should be chosen. The winner was Alexander Mather, a seventh-grade student who attends Lake Braddock Secondary School in Virginia.

According to NASA's Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen:

Alex's entry captured the spirit of exploration. Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it's going to make amazing discoveries. It's already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today — processing for launch. Alex and his classmates are the Artemis Generation, and they're going to be taking the next steps into space that lead to Mars. That inspiring work will always require perseverance. We can't wait to see that nameplate on Mars.

Perseverance will join Curiosity, InSight, and other past rovers in exploring Mars. The machine will carry a variety of scientific equipment to gather data on the Red Planet; NASA will focus specifically on astrobiology in its hunt for signs of microbial life, among other things. The rover weighs 2,300lbs and it will collect samples that'll eventually be returned to Earth.

At this point in time, NASA says its team is conducting the final assembly of Perseverance in Florida. Assuming everything goes according to plan, the rover will be launched later this year, after which it will spend months traveling to the Red Planet. NASA anticipates the rover arriving at Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021, a little before 4PM EST.