High School Student Names NASA’s Mars Helicopter

    01 May 2020

    An American high school student has named the first helicopter to be sent to Mars.

    Ingenuity was the name chosen by the U.S. space agency NASA in a competition involving thousands of students across America. The name was suggested by Vaneeza Rupani, a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama.

    The Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary defines ingenuity as skills that permit someone to solve problems, invent things.

    Mars rover's new name is Perseverance. It will launch for the Red Planet this summer.
    Mars rover's new name is Perseverance. It will launch for the Red Planet this summer.

    Rupani's entry was one of 28,000 from students of all ages from all 50 states, NASA said in a statement. The names had already been sent in as part of a naming competition that ended in March for NASA's new Mars explorer. Perseverance was the winning name chosen by a Virginia student for the new six-wheeled robotic explorer.

    NASA said that with so many good suggestions for the explorer, it decided to also choose a name from the same entries for the helicopter, which will travel to Mars attached to Perseverance.

    In her entry, Rupani explained her name choice. She wrote that ingenuity is what permits us "to accomplish amazing things" and "expand our horizons to the edges of the universe."

    NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Ingenuity represents "the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase."

    Rupani told The Associated Press, "It was really cool I got to be a part of something like this."

    NASA says the explorer, which weighs about 1,043 kilograms, will collect samples from Mars for eventual return to Earth. It will also look for signs of past life and gather climate and geology data.

    The explorer and helicopter are currently going through final building steps and inspection at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The two are targeted to launch in July or August. After a long trip, Perseverance is expected to land at Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18, 2021.

    After arriving on the red planet, the helicopter will remain under a covering to protect it until the timing is right for the aircraft to be deployed. Ingenuity will then have a 31-day flight window to prove that powered flights can be successful on Mars, NASA said.

    The planned launch of Perseverance is part of a program that also includes missions to the moon to prepare for possible human exploration of Mars.

    NASA plans to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024. After that, it will seek to establish what it calls a Lunar Gateway, a small spaceship that would remain in orbit around the moon. It would be designed as a base from which astronauts could make trips to the moon and possibly Mars.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press and NASA. Hai Do was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    perseverance n. the quality that allows someone to continue to do something even though it is difficult

    accomplish v. to succeed in doing something good

    expand your horizons phr. increase the number of things that you know about, have experienced, or can do

    showcase v. to present, exhibit or display

    geology n. the rocks, land, processes of land formation, etc., of a particular area

    mission n. a task or job that someone is given to do

    junior n. a student in the third of four years in a high school or college

    demo n. a shortened version of the word demonstration

    eventual adj. coming or happening at a later time