Alexander Mather, 13, is the reason his family will travel to Florida this summer for the Mars 2020 launch. The NASA mission will include NNSA contributions like the “eyes” of the next-generation rover. But naming it Perseverance is what earned Alexander the visit to Cape Canaveral.
Mather is the son of Air Force Lt. Col. David Mather, who worked in NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs until January, when he moved to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
The human race will always persevere into the future ... We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up.
Alexander Mather used to be more interested in video games than space. All that changed in 2018 when he visited Space Camp in Alabama. From his first glimpse of the Saturn V rocket – which launched the Apollo astronauts to the Moon – Mather became a space fan, browsing the NASA website daily, reading astronaut bios, and 3D-printing model rockets. When the call went out for students to name NASA's new Mars rover, he knew he wanted to contribute.
“The human race will always persevere into the future,” Alexander wrote in his winning entry. “We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up.”
The northern Virginia seventh-grader, submitted the name as part of a Name the Rover contest NASA sponsored earlier this year. His entry was selected out of 28,000 submitted by K-12 students nationwide.
“Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate. “Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it’s going to make amazing discoveries. It’s already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today – processing for launch. Alex and his classmates are the Artemis Generation, and they’re going to be taking the next steps into space that lead to Mars. That inspiring work will always require perseverance. We can’t wait to see that nameplate on Mars.”
NNSA and the Department of Energy have contributed mightily to the Mars 2020 mission. From the radioisotope thermoelectric generator powering the mission to the SuperCam , helping it analyze rocks. NASA has worked with our scientists and experts nationwide to ensure success.