KMS student is semifinalist in Mars rover naming contest
When NASA needed a new name for the next Mars rover it turned to the nation’s kindergarten through 12th graders through an essay contest.
Kalispell Middle School English teacher Ashley Anderson used the contest as a launching point for a cross-curricular assignment that encompassed writing, research and science. Participating in the contest was optional.
One of the middle school students who decided to submit his essay for the contest was seventh-grader Ian Ariaz, who learned he was one of 155 semifinalists on Jan. 13. Semifinalists were selected from more than 28,000 submissions.
Since Ariaz was interested in mythology and Mars is the Roman god of war — he chose to submit the name “Aethon,” one of the four horses of Mars. He said that he wanted to use a name other than a god.
“I wanted to go deeper into mythology than just a god,” he said noting that previous rovers have had god names such as Hermes. “It was a little bit more interesting.”
He likened the mythological horse to the abilities of the new rover to traverse tough terrain, explaining more about it in his essay: “The name of the Mars rover should be Aethon (eh-th-aw-n), it is one of Mars’ four horses in Roman mythology. The rover is going to cross over canyons, hills, rough
terrain, and navigate massive rocks. This resembles a horse closely because in nature they can traverse just about any terrain. The rover is trying to make way for human life on Mars in the future, like most rovers it will probably go longer than expected. This resembles Aethon because he is immortal. NASA should choose this name because it represents the mission at hand as well as shows the things that the rover will be doing.”
This week Ariaz was waiting to find out who the nine finalists would be, and although he didn’t end up making the cut, he was glad for the experience because he originally didn’t want to enter, but said he thought he’d give it a shot.
“I learned about the rover and some of the features. I learned a little bit about Roman mythology. I learned how to pronounce some interesting words,” he said, smiling.
According to NASA, the Mars rover is “car-sized,” measuring about 10 feet long, not including its arm, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall and weighing “less than a compact car” at 2,260 pounds.
The public may vote on the names/ essays that were selected as finalists online at https://mars.nasa.gov/ mars2020/participate/name-the-rover/. The names include: fortitude, courage, ingenuity, promise, perseverance, vision, tenacity, clarity and endurance.
A final name will be announced in March.
The Mars rover is set to launch between July 17 and Aug. 5. It is expected to land February 2021 on Jezero Crater, Mars. Its mission is anticipated to last about 687 Earth days or one year on Mars according to https://mars.nasa.gov/.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake. com.