Shooting for the Stars

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NASA’s rover will make a 172.21 million mile journey from Earth to Mars in 2020. Elaina Fleming (11) was one of the students competing for the honor of naming the rover.

In 2020, the year with perfect vision, many milestones await, one of these being NASA’s mission to send a new rover to Mars. However, before the Mars 2020 Rover is launched, it’s going to need a name. 

Future Engineers, a multi-year education initiative, offered a challenge to students in grades K-12 around the United States: “Name the Rover.” 28,000 students applied, each competing to have their unique name win. Each applicant had to submit a 150 word paragraph explaining why their name deserved to be selected. Elaina Fleming (11) was one of them. 

“The Mars Rover Mission for 2020 is all about finding a way to live on Mars. So I took that as hope for living on Mars… so I came up with the name ‘Aspiration.’ The aspiration to live on Mars,” Fleming said. 

“Aspiration” became one of the 50 names in the grades 9-12 category chosen. This made Fleming a semifinalist, beating thousands of other students across the nation and the only semifinalist from Tennessee. 

“I’ve always been a huge space nerd so… getting phone calls from NASA and having to sign confidential documents is really cool,” Fleming said.

NASA sent Fleming a Mars Prize Pack in honor of becoming a semifinalist. It contained a large book, which explained the Rover’s mission to test new technologies and seek signs of microbial life. 

Fleming is passionate about writing and her success in this competition is further motivation to continue. 

“Becoming a semifinalist made me feel that I should keep putting out there and trying because I might actually succeed and do something awesome,” Fleming said.