Perseverance will be the fifth probe to explore the Red Planet, and it will follow in the footsteps of “Signor” (Mars arrived in 1997), “Spirit” and “Opportunity” (2004) and “Corioste” (2012).
The name was revealed at a school in Burke, Virginia, where the student Alex Mather, who suggested the name, was congratulated.
“Alex’s suggestion is to explode the spirit of exploration. The probe, like our previous exploratory missions, is facing challenges and making exceptional discoveries,” said NASA science chief Thomas Zorbuken.
As in previous probes, the name of the current probe was chosen as the result of a national competition that included schoolchildren.
155 names were chosen in the semi-final stage by 4,700 volunteers, including teachers and space enthusiasts. Nine of them were left to vote on the NASA website.
Alex Mather was also invited with his family to attend the launch of the probe scheduled for June 17 to August 5 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, southeastern United States.
The probe is expected to reach Mars in February 2021, to land in a crater named “Giziero”.
This mission has two main objectives: to search for traces of life that previously existed on the Red Planet and to take samples that will be securely stored in tubes inside the probe, pending the receipt of a next mission on Mars.
The probe comes in the size of a small car three meters long and 2.70 meters wide and is equipped with six wheels like its predecessor, “Curiosity” to allow it to cross rocks.
It is also equipped with a small, power-saving nuclear reactor, a 2,20-meter-long moving arm, and a rock drill rig for sampling.