Rover Name Semifinalists Include Max Looft


Maximilian Looft

After two months of eager waiting, the semifinalist names for the 2020 Mars Rover have been announced. A total of 156 semifinalists have been chosen from across the country. Those chosen from New Mexico are Maximilian Looft, from Santa Fe High School, and Mark Goldman and Josiah Fidel, both from Albuquerque.

The winner will be invited to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Judges have had since Nov. 1 to choose the semifinalists, choosing three per state and one per age group (grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12). The entries were judged on their appropriateness and significance, originality, and the short essay that went along with them. 

Now the judges will have until Jan. 21 to decide who the finalists will be, carving down the contestants from 155 to just 9. These finalists will be interviewed, there will be an online poll, and the winner will be chosen on Feb. 18. 

The rover itself, when it finally has a name, will launch in July of this year and will touch down on Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. The rover has two primary goals of retrieving soil samples to search for evidence of past (or even present) microbial life and gathering vital information that future colonists will need to know.

The names submitted from this state were “Picus,” by Mark Goldman, “Promise,” by Josiah Fidel, and “G.R.I.T.” (Geologic Retrieval Investigation and Testing) by, you guessed it, me. 

To learn more about the contest and the other entries, check out the official list here: