Names Of The Mars Rovers

How A Rover Gets A Name

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It’s 2020 and NASA is preparing to launch its’ fifth rover to Mars. At the time of this writing, the new rover remains nameless However, that will be changing very soon. If you want to learn more about how you can influence the name of the Rover. Check out the post I shared below.

We will not know the Offical name of the Mars 2020 Rover until March of 2020

Names of The Prior Mars Rovers

While we wait for NASA to finish preparing the rover for its long voyage I thought I might make a quick post to honor the previous Mars Rovers.

The names of the past Mars Rovers are:

  • Sojourner – Landed On Mars July 1997
  • Spirit – Landed On Mars January 2004
  • Opportunity – Landed On Mars January 2004
  • Curiosity – Landed on Mars August 2012

Name Origins:


The name Sojourner was chosen after a year-long, worldwide competition in which students up to 18 years old were invited to select a heroine and submit an essay about her historical accomplishments. In their essays, students were asked to address how a planetary rover named for their heroine would translate those accomplishments to the Martian environment.

Valerie Ambroise, 12, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, submitted the winning essay about Sojourner Truth, an African-American reformist who lived during the Civil War era. An abolitionist and champion of women’s rights, Sojourner Truth, whose legal name was Isabella Van Wagener, made it her mission to “travel up and down the land,” advocating the rights of all people to be free and the rights of women to participate fully in society. The name Sojourner was selected because it means “traveler.” To learn more about the naming competition that year click here.

Spirit and Opportunity

Spirit and Opportunity — two cherished attributes that guide humans to explore. A 9-year-old girl named Sofi Collis wrote the winning essay in a naming contest Here the statement that explains it all.

Sofi’s essay reads: “I used to live in an orphanage. It was dark and cold and lonely. At night, I looked up at the sparkly sky and felt better. I dreamed I could fly there. In America, I can make all my dreams come true. Thank you for the ‘Spirit’ and the ‘Opportunity.'”

To learn more about the day Spirit and Opportunity were named and the girl that named them, click here.


Curiosity got its name from student Clara Ma from Kansas, who as a sixth-grader, entered an essay contest to name the next Mars rover. Her essay was chosen from 9,000 entries and as part of her winnings, Ma signed her name on the rover before it was packed for its journey to Mars.

Ma wrote in her winning essay:

Curiosity is an everlasting flame that burns in everyone’s mind. It makes me get out of bed in the morning and wonder what surprises life will throw at me that day. Curiosity is such a powerful force. Without it, we wouldn’t be who we are today. Curiosity is the passion that drives us through our everyday lives. We have become explorers and scientists with our need to ask questions and to wonder

To read more about Ma and Curiosity click here.


That is is all we can do until March of 2020 when we learn the name of the Mars 2020 rover and winner of the competition.

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