Team Behind NASA’s Newest Mars Rover to Honor Persevering Students

NASA’s “You’ve Got Perseverance” awards opportunity invites U.S. teachers, educators, and community members to nominate students in grades 6–8 who have demonstrated that they have the right stuff to move past obstacles and reach their academic goals. The program will reward that dedication with recognition all the way from Mars.

Events over these many months have taught us all about what it takes to persevere. Students have had to adapt and push forward through tough challenges — not unlike the team behind NASA’s Perseverance rover, which has overcome many obstacles to build, launch, and operate the mission on Mars. The rover team now seeks to honor students who have demonstrated perseverance, sending them personal messages beamed by the rover from the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater, which it has been exploring since landing in February 2021.

There will be four opportunities to nominate students. Nomination information is available at

“Getting NASA’s heaviest, most sophisticated rover yet onto the surface of a planet hundreds of millions of miles away is a remarkable feat unto itself,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. “But to do so in spite of the safety restrictions during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic required extraordinary perseverance. And so does forging ahead as a student when the pandemic dramatically altered so much of your day-to-day life.”

Throughout the rover’s development, journey to Mars, white-knuckle landing, and ambitious surface mission so far, the Perseverance team has risen to meet new challenges. “It’s the most complex robotic system we’ve ever sent to another planet,” said Perseverance Project Manager Jennifer Trosper of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “It has to autonomously drive five times faster than any other Mars rover and use its science instruments to carefully select and then collect over 30 samples for pickup by a future mission.”

Perseverance brought to Mars seven new science instruments, including a technology demonstration to generate oxygen from the martian atmosphere, plus the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

What’s more, “after all the planning, designing, and most of the spacecraft building, we had to dramatically change how we worked because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Trosper said. To stay safe, most team members (including Trosper) teleworked. “We had to finish the development and testing, as well as operate this complex rover, with much of the team working remotely. It was almost to the point where you wondered, ‘Is this really doable?’ But we just kept moving forward, faced head-on whatever issue came up, and overcame each challenge, one by one,” she said.

Now the team wants to encourage the next generation to persevere in the same way – to embrace the idea of overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. As part of “You’ve Got Perseverance,” the rover will congratulate students for persevering in their academic pursuits by using its “Seq. Echo” capability.

When sending instructions to Perseverance, engineers can command the rover to echo a message back to Earth. NASA’s Curiosity rover, on Mars since 2012, used the method to “welcome” Perseverance when it landed. “We also wanted to give some young students the opportunity to talk to our team and ask questions,” said Trosper.

When the personalized messages are transmitted from Mars, the students will have a chance to share the experience with family and their classrooms via a live video chat with Perseverance rover team members in mission control at JPL. Trosper hopes that connecting students with her team will help them see how the scientists and engineers also face challenging situations and succeed through perseverance.

Nomination windows for the “You’ve Got Perseverance” award are planned throughout the 2021–2022 school year. Selection will be made through a lottery, with entries screened to ensure they meet the criteria. All nominated students can receive a certificate to acknowledge their perseverance.