Alabama high school student names NASA’s Mars helicopter
A Tuscaloosa County High School student has named NASA’s Mars helicopter, a vehicle which will become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet, according to a release from NASA.
Vaneeza Rupani’s recommended name, “Ingenuity,” was selected by NASA as part of its “Name the Rover” essay contest.
Rupani wrote in her submission, “The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration. Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe.”
Students from every state and U.S. territory responded to the contest, resulting in more than 28,000 submissions.
Some of Alabama’s elected officials offered congratulatory statements.
“I am proud that NASA’s Mars Helicopter will be named by Vaneeza Rupani of Northport, Alabama,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). “This is a unique privilege. Ms. Rupani’s essay on why she chose the name ‘Ingenuity’ highlights her creativity, originality, and intelligence. Her grasp on the importance of exploration is extraordinary, and I am confident that she has a bright future ahead. Congratulations to Ms. Rupani on being selected for this prestigious honor.”
NASA’s Mars Helicopter now has a name: Ingenuity. This came from Northport’s very own Vaneeza Rupani, who was selected from a crowd of 28,000 to name the historic aircraft. We are very proud of her wonderful accomplishment. Congratulations, Vaneeza! pic.twitter.com/b8Jfjui2sw
— Robert_Aderholt (@Robert_Aderholt) April 29, 2020
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine believes the name offered by Rupani is the perfect fit.
“Ingenuity encapsulates the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase for everyone when it takes off next year as the first aircraft on another planet’s surface,” said Bridenstine. “It took a lot of hard and ingenious work to get the helicopter ready and then placed on the rover, and there’s a lot more going to be required. I was happy we had another great name from the naming contest finalists from which I was able to select something so representative of this exciting part of our next mission to Mars.”
According to NASA, the helicopter will ride to Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which is preparing for launch in July or August. The vehicle will eventually deploy and operate on its own throughout the planet. Ingenuity weighs four pounds and operates under solar power.
Watch Rupani explain her motivation for naming the helicopter:
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia