Partners With Disney For Contest
NASA is looking for the right
stuff... or in this case, the right name for its next Mars
The space agency -- in cooperation with Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures -- will conduct a naming contest for its car-sized
Mars Science Laboratory rover that is scheduled for launch in 2009.
The contest began Tuesday, November 18, and is open to students 5
to 18 years old who attend a US school and are enrolled in the
current academic year.
To enter the contest, students will submit essays explaining why
their suggested name for the rover should be chosen. Essays must be
received by January 25, 2009. In March 2009, the public will have
an opportunity to rank nine finalist names via the Internet as
additional input for judges to consider during the selection
process. NASA will announce the winning rover name in April
Disney -- which is using the contest to promote the DVD release
of the summer blockbuster "WALL-E," from Pixar -- will provide
prizes to students submitting winning essays, including a trip to
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA where the rover is
under construction. The grand prize winner will have an opportunity
to place a signature on the spacecraft and take part in the history
of space exploration.
"Mars exploration has always captured the public imagination,"
said Mark Dahl, program executive for the Mars Science Laboratory
at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This contest will expand our
ability to inspire students' interest in science and give the
public a chance to participate in NASA's next expedition to
Disney is lending WALL-E's likeness to invite students to
participate in the naming contest. The hope is the friendly robot
character will provide young viewers with a current connection to
the human-robotic partnership that is transforming discovery and
The naming contest partnership is part of a Space Act Agreement
between NASA and Disney designed to use the appeal of WALL-E in
educational and public outreach efforts.
"All of us at Disney are delighted to be working with NASA in
its educational and public outreach efforts to teach schoolchildren
about space exploration, robot technology and the universe in which
they live," said Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures Group. "WALL-E is one of the most lovable and
entertaining characters that Pixar has ever created, and he is the
perfect spokes-robot for this program."
The Mars Science Laboratory rover will be larger and more
capable than any craft previously sent to land there. It will check
whether the environment in a carefully selected landing region ever
has been favorable for supporting microbial life. The rover will
search for minerals that formed in the presence of water and look
for several chemical building blocks of life.
Additional assignments include imaging its surroundings in high
definition, analyzing rocks with a high-powered laser beam,
inspecting rocks and soil with a six-foot robotic arm, and cooking
and sniffing rock powder delivered from a hammering drill to
investigate what minerals are in Martian rocks.