Artist's illustration of the Perseverance rover on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's next Mars rover, expected to launch to the Red Planet in July, is officially named Perseverance.

The big picture: Once on Mars, the mission is designed to search out possible signs of past life on the planet and cache samples for a future mission to return back to Earth one day.

Details: The name — suggested by Virginia seventh-grader Alexander Mather — and eight other finalists were voted on by members of the public. Those results were then submitted to NASA for review.

  • The rover joins other Mars spacecraft that have been named by the public, including Opportunity, Spirit, Sojourner and Curiosity.
  • Opportunity's nickname was Oppy during its time working on Mars, so perhaps Perseverance will earn the nickname Percy in that same style.

What's next: Perseverance is now being checked out ahead of launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

  • If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft should land on Mars in the planet's Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.
  • That landing site is thought to be one of the best places to hunt for signs of past life on the Red Planet.

Go deeper: Where to hunt for life on Mars

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