A student from America's Alabama High School, Vaneeza Rupani, has named NASA's first powered flying rover on another planet as 'Ingenuity'. During NASA's 'name the rover' contest, Rupani came up with the name and won the contest with her reasoning. Rupani's participation in the contest was among 28,000 other essays submitted to NASA by K-12 students from every US state and territory recommending names for the next Mars rover.
"The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration. Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe," Rupani said in her contest submission.
In March, the premier space agency had announced the name of its Mars Rover as 'Perseverance' through the essay of a seventh-grader named Alexander Mather. The agency thought it was only apt to name the helicopter that will accompany the rover to Mars, hence NASA officials revisited the submissions to choose a name for the helicopter.
Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, made the choice for the rover's name, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine chose the name for the helicopter.
"Ingenuity encapsulates the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase for everyone when it takes off next year as the first aircraft on another planet's surface. It took a lot of hard and ingenious work to get the helicopter ready and then placed on the rover, and there's a lot more going to be required," said Bridenstine.
"I was happy we had another great name from the naming contest finalists from which I was able to select something so representative of this exciting part of our next mission to Mars" added Bridenstine.
"I am proud that NASA's Mars Helicopter will be named by Vaneeza Rupani of Northport, Alabama. This is a unique privilege. Ms. Rupani's essay on why she chose the name 'Ingenuity' highlights her creativity, originality, and intelligence," said Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama.
"Her grasp on the importance of exploration is extraordinary, and I am confident that she has a bright future ahead. Congratulations to Ms. Rupani on being selected for this prestigious honor," added Shelby.
The helicopter will ride to Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which is preparing for launch in July or August. For several months following the rover's landing, Ingenuity will remain encapsulated in a protective cover to shield it from debris during entry, descent and landing. When the timing in the rover mission is right, Ingenuity will be deployed to stand and operate on its own on the surface of the Red Planet. NASA's Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter are currently undergoing final assembly and checkout at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It will be launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July and land at Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.
(With ANI inputs)