Students with ‘perseverance’ receive personalized messages from Mars – Courtesy of NASA

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This illustration depicts NASA’s Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Credit: NASA

The first group of college students from the agency “You’ve Got Perseverance!” campaign was honored with a message from the red planet and a conversation with the rover team at JPL.

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Nominated by educators and community leaders from across the country, the cohort is the agency’s first “You’ve Got Perseverance!” award, which honors American students in grades six through eight who have shown that nothing will deter them from their academic journey.

Persevering students

Twenty students – along with their parents, teachers and classmates – met virtually with members of the Mars rover team at JPL, where they received personalized messages broadcast by NASA’s Perseverance rover as part of the campaign “You’ve Got Perseverance”. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

During a videoconference Feb. 15, students were able to see the rover team working in a control room at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, as Perseverance mission manager Jessica Samuels Surface, virtually guided them through the installation. In the 60-minute program, students were able to ask questions of dozens of rover team members and learn how Perseverance used its “Seq. Echo” to send the messages (generated by the team on Earth, then relayed to Mars and back. Samuels showed a video showcasing the individualized text messages the rover had sent to students some 200 million miles away (320 million kilometers). This is the first time students have received text messages personalized from a rover on another planet.

Perseverance had this message for Shannon Hayes, an eighth grader from Lake Worth, Florida: “Shannon, you show that nothing will stop you if you put your mind to it. Path to follow!”

Jennifer Trosper

Jennifer Trosper, Mars Perseverance Project Manager, leads members of the JPL rover team in a round of applause for students who have been honored through the “You’ve Got Perseverance” campaign for overcoming the obstacles in the pursuit of their educational goals. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Shannon has a genetic condition that makes her medically fragile and prevents her from attending school in person, her teacher said when nominating her for the opportunity. Despite the student’s severe physical limitations, “her work is impeccable and detailed, and shows an amazing understanding of concepts. Her maturity and positive attitude are the best I have ever seen,” the teacher wrote.

For her part, when it comes to Q&A, Shannon wanted to know how difficult it was to drive the rover in the low gravity of Mars. Other students had questions about evidence of water on Mars, the types of samples Perseverance has collected, how the rover uses plutonium for power, and how it’s designed to survive the harsh environment of Mars. red planet. Perseverance Project manager Jennifer Trosper told the kids their questions gave her confidence they were on the path to success, and she said she was torn reading the student nomination forms, some of which overcame serious obstacles.

“I read your stories and was so inspired,” Trosper told the kids, adding, “That perseverance, that courage, and that determination — that’s what it takes to be successful.”

Learn more about “You have perseverance”

The program connects students with the JPL rover team, whose members faced several challenges during the development of the rover, the trip to Mars, the landing at the white joint and the mission to the surface. – all during a global pandemic that has prompted much of the team to work remotely.

Students who have also been persistent, showing tenacity, self-motivation and the ability to overcome obstacles in pursuit of their goals, are eligible to be honored by the rover team and NASA.

Applicants must be nominated by an educator or community leader with direct knowledge of student academic improvement under adversity, and a second nominator must validate the submission. Once entries have been reviewed to ensure that students meet the criteria, selection for participation is done through a lottery.

The You’ve Got Perseverance program continues for the remainder of this school year. Three more nomination windows are planned, including a window that is open now and ends on February 28. The winners of the next group will be announced on March 24.

Learn more about perseverance

A key focus of Perseverance’s mission to Mars is astrobiology, including searching for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s past geology and climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with the ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for further analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

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