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Utah Student Becomes Semifinalist In Mars Rover Naming Contest

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – A Utah elementary student is a semi-finalist in NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest.

Lanaya Allen, 9, submitted an essay explaining her choice to name the Mars rover ‘Promise’.

“Promise has two meanings to it; one of the meanings is if you say you are going to do something you’ll do it, and the other meaning is hope and the mission of finding life on Mars shows lots of hope,” Allen said.

The call for names was put out by NASA in the fall. The competition received nearly 28,000 entries. The rover, like previous ones, will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

Allen said her love for the solar system helped her choose her name.

“I’ve always really liked space and enjoy learning different things about planets,” she said. “Like for example Mars has dust devils.”

Lanaya’s father, Ryan Allen, said this competition was made for his daughter.

“Even recently she’s been talking about how she wanted to perhaps help design rovers and I thought it can’t be more perfect,” he said.

No matter the outcome of the contest, he hopes his daughter will be inspired by this experience.

“I hope this is a memory that will stay with her, that will continue to encourage her to always pursue her dreams, you know, always shoot for the stars,” he said.

Finalists will be announced at the end of January, which is when the public can vote on their top pick. The winner will be chosen in March and the rover will launch into space with its new name this summer.