Oct 17, 2012
By Ben Lachman – PR and Marketing Assistant
On the first day, after a short meet and greet with the other ‘tweeps’, Lori Garver, the Deputy Administrator of NASA, greeted us and started the briefing. Her message was about the importance of the space program and she spoke about the technology that has been used and designed to meet the challenges that NASA faces. She communicated the biggest challenge that NASA faces was a shortage in qualified students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the high school level. To help solve this issue NASA started an Outreach Program to help get students interested and involved. One of the outreach projects was a naming contest for the Mars Scientific Laboratory.
Clara Ma was 11 years old when she submitted her essay for the contest to name the MSL Rover. Out of the 9,000 student entries she received the honor of naming the rover ‘Curiosity’. Since winning the contest in 2009, she has been part of the MSL mission; visiting the Rover in the clean room, being present for the launch, and she was at JPL to see it land. She has become sort of a celebrity at JPL and it was obvious that winning the essay contest has influenced her life in a major way.
Read her essay here: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/namerover/