NASA’s next Mars rover is officially called Perseverance. The new name suits the car-size rover and its ground-breaking mission nicely, NASA officials said. “There has never been exploration — never, never been making history — without perseverance,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said during a name-unveiling ceremony. “Perseverance is a strong word,” he added. “It’s about making progress despite obstacles.”
Perseverance will land inside Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021, kicking off a $2.5 billion mission to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet — the first time a NASA surface craft has actively hunted for possible Martians since the twin Viking landers did so from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s. Perseverance will also collect and cache several dozen samples of pristine, promising Mars material for future return to Earth, where scientists can continue the hunt using advanced equipment in labs around the world.