Tuscaloosa student wins essay contest to name Mars rover

Tuscaloosa student wins essay contest to name Mars rover
(Source: Tuscaloosa County Schools)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - This is out this world cool! A Tuscaloosa high school student won the right to name the next NASA Mars rover.

Vaneeza Rupani, a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport came up with the name, Ingenuity, and the motivation behind it during NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.

NASA’s Mars Helicopter, now named Ingenuity, will become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet.

Rupani named rover Ingenuity
Rupani named rover Ingenuity (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/NIA/Rupani Family)

"The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration," Rupani wrote in her contest submission. "Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe."

Rupani’s was among 28,000 essays submitted to NASA by K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory recommending names for the the next Mars rover.

"Ingenuity encapsulates the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase for everyone when it takes off next year as the first aircraft on another planet’s surface," said Bridenstine. "It took a lot of hard and ingenious work to get the helicopter ready and then placed on the rover, and there’s a lot more going to be required. I was happy we had another great name from the naming contest finalists from which I was able to select something so representative of this exciting part of our next mission to Mars."

“I am proud that NASA’s Mars Helicopter will be named by Vaneeza Rupani of Northport, Alabama,” said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama. “This is a unique privilege. Ms. Rupani’s essay on why she chose the name ‘Ingenuity’ highlights her creativity, originality, and intelligence. Her grasp on the importance of exploration is extraordinary, and I am confident that she has a bright future ahead. Congratulations to Ms. Rupani on being selected for this prestigious honor.”

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