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Seattle student is finalist in NASA contest to name new Mars rover

Greenwood fourth-grader Arden Richter has always loved outer space and science, according to his mom. He's in the running to win a trip to Cape Canaveral.


Congratulations to Greenwood fourth-grader Arden Richter, whose essay was selected from more than 28,000 K-12 student submissions as a semifinalist in the “Name NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover” essay contest! Just one student will be chosen to win the grand prize — the exciting honor of naming the rover and an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds. It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. The spacecraft is targeted for a July 2020 launch and is expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.

Arden suggested the name “Inspiration” because: “Inspiration is a spark, sitting inside all of us, waiting for a chance to ignite.” 

“I’m excited. We got the paperwork, and I want to see what happens next,” says Arden. “I feel kind of proud. I can just picture the rover on Mars, and I find it exciting to maybe be contributing to that.” 

“Arden has been fascinated by outer space since he was in preschool, an interest that ultimately inspired his passion for science in general,” says Thekla Richter, Arden’s mom. “It’s amazing to think that Arden’s name idea could possibly be used for the next Mars Rover. I’m so proud of his hard work and creativity!” 

Read Arden’s full essay here

Related: Learn more about the family in a Q&A with Arden's mom