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|2009-05-27 - Weird News|
Melvin Baker - AHN Reporter
Kansas Sixth-Grader Wins Naming Rights to Next Mars Rover
Washington, D.C. (AHN) -- Mars, say hello to Curiosity. The next unmanned exploration vehicle being readied to land on the red planet was christened with that name Wednesday by a sixth-grade girl from Kansas, Clara Ma.
Ma's name suggestion was picked from 9,000 submitted to NASA in a nationwide contest.
Her prize is a trip to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, where she will sign her name on the rover.
The six-wheeled Curiosity, designated the Mars Science Laboratory, is bigger than previous rovers sent to Mars. Its mission is to determine if the region in which it will land could have supported life in the form of microbes. It also will check for chemicals essential to the creation of life and for the formation of minerals that indicate the presence of water.
The rover is expected to launch in 2011.
The 12-year-old girl supported her choice of name in an essay submitted to the space agency. "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," Ma wrote in part.
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