If you’re a student who’s been mulling over names for the Mars 2020 rover, it’s now your time to shine. NASA has started accepting short essays from K-12 students who want to give the robotic explorer a proper identity. You’ll have until November 1st to submit an idea, and the competition will be divided into three groups based on grade level (K-4, 5-8, 9-12) with frontrunners advancing based on appropriateness, originality and significance. You probably won’t see a Rover McRoverface, then.
NASA will whittle the competition down to 52 semi finalists per group, each representing their state or territory. The public will have a chance to vote on nine finalists in January 2020, and you’ll find out the name on February 18th, 2020, a year before the rover is expected to land on the Martian surface. There’s a long way to go before the bot has an honest-to-goodness name, then, but you’ll have an idea of who’s in contention months beforehand.