Westwood 4th-grader’s submission picked as finalist in NASA’s Mars rover naming contest

Amira Shanshiry is one of nine finalists.

The Mars 2020 Rover is seen in the spacecraft assembly area clean room in December during a media tour at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

A Westwood elementary school student could be responsible for the name given to NASA’s new Mars rover.

Amira Shanshiry, a fourth-grader, is one of nine finalists picked by the space agency, which has narrowed the field down from the more than 28,000 essays that were submitted from students across the country ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, pitching names for the next spacecraft headed to Mars.

Shanshiry is suggesting the rover be named “Promise.”

“The Mars rover promises to bring to light major discoveries about life on Mars,” she wrote in her essay for the contest. “Moreover, the rover will help astronauts land on Mars. As the rover keeps its promise, Americans will unite and bond over the success of its space adventures. Kids around the world will be curious, and maybe someday become astronauts themselves.”


Shanshiry is one of three finalists in the age group of students ranging from kindergarten through fourth grade.

“Amira is a bright and dedicated student,” Sarah Cronin, the fourth grader’s principal at the Hanlon School, said in a statement. “We are proud and excited to see what her future holds. It makes perfect sense that she suggested the name ‘Promise’ since Amira and her fellow classmates are full of such promise.”

 Shanshiry said in a statement that the competition has been “an amazing experience.”

“I believe this Mars rover will majorly help humans with our knowledge about Mars, and I am so happy to be supporting that process,” she said.


For the final part of the competition, members of the public can vote for the name of their choice through Jan. 27. According to NASA, the results of the poll will be “a consideration” as the final name is chosen.

After the poll closes, Shanshiry and her fellow finalists will discuss their name choices with a panel including NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA-JPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie, and Clara Ma, who named the Mars rover Curiosity in 2009 as a sixth-grader.

The new name will be announced in March, and the winner of the contest will be invited to see the rover launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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