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Name the next Mars rover!


So, you’ve sent YOUR name to Mars (haven’t you? What’s keeping you?! I gave you the link and everything!), what next? Well, how about helping NASA actually name the rover your name is going to be riding?

At the moment, the Mars Science Laboratory is simply known as “MSL”, which is accurate but not exactly catchy. What MSL needs, like every rover and spacecraft before it, is a name, and NASA is inviting people to help them choose that name by voting for their favourite out of nine finalists. All you have to do is go to a NASA website and put the nine names in the order you rank them, it’s as simple as that. 🙂

I think this is a great idea! MSL is a beast of a machine, a Transformer of a spacecraft, a real brute of a rover. It needs a name that’s suitable. Something… “exciting, inspirational, dramatic”! Something that will capture the essence of the mission…

These are the names NASA is asking people to vote on.



I have to be honest here: none of those names are really jumping out at me as being “exciting, inspirational, or dramatic”, and I’m not sure any of them “capture the essence of the mission”. “Sunrise” is just too hippy-huggy for me, and sounds like an orange juice or health drink; “Perception” sounds like something a Vulcan would call a Mars rover; “Curiosity” is a bit too timid-sounding, and is just screaming out to be tagged onto the word “killed” in newspaper headlines as soon as anything goes wrong…

At the moment, I’m leaning towards, and torn between, “Amelia” and “Pursuit”. I like Amelia not because I have a friend called Amelia, and it would be fun to read about her trekking across Mars every day, but because a) I’m wondering if the name was submitted as a tribute to the famous aviator Amelia Earhart, and b) in a very spooky coincidence I bought, from a charity shop the other day, a video of the STAR TREK: VOYAGER episode “The 37’s” which features… Amelia Earhart! No, I’m not joking; I really did buy a STAR TREK: VOYAGER video. I have a soft spot for that series, which I know puts me in a tiny minority of ST fans but…

Anyway, back to the naming contest. As I said, I’m torn between “Amelia” and “Pursuit”. “Pursuit” just sounds, well, sexier somehow, more fitting for a rugged, exciting space mission.

But… sigh… I don’t know, I really don’t, I’m struggling to look at the shortlist and go “I want THAT one!”. What is intriguing though is that the website clearly states that NASA will make the final decision, so maybe they’ll go with something else in the end, I don’t know.

Anyway, why not join in the fun and cast your vote here, especially if there’s a name on that shortlist you really like. It’s great that NASA lets the public be involved in things like this, so go on, give it a go. 🙂

Want to go to Mars..?

… me too! But booooo! we can’t. At least, not yet. But we can do the next best thing and send our NAMES to Mars…! How?

Well, for the past few years NASA has encouraged people to participate in their unmanned missions by setting up websites that allows them to put their names on the spaceprobes being launched out into space. All the names submitted are then etched onto a special disc which is stuck on to the spaceprobe and voila, everyone who sent in their name is, in a way, off into space! It’s just a bit of fun, not scientific in any way at all, but it’s still a cool thing to do, and clearly encourages public participation and interest in the missions, so it’s a Win-Win as far as I’m concerned. My name is now scattered across the whole solar system… 😉

From today, NASA is accepting names to go to Mars onboard the Mars Science Laboratory. It’s embarrassingly easy to send your name to Mars. Just go to this website…


… and you’ll see this screen…


And after adding those few details voila, you’re off to Mars! I got onto the submission site very soon after it opened for business, so I’m pretty sure that Cumbrian Sky is the first blog to have its name submitted. Here’s our shiny certificate!


So, why not head on over to the website and add your name to the list! Tell your friends about it too, and encourage them to participate in this exciting mission. MSL doesn’t launch for another 2 years yet, so by the time it blasts off there will probably be millions of names on it. Get in there now and you can feel just a little bit chuffed that you were among the first! 🙂