Santa Fe High School senior Maximilian Looft has been selected as a semifinalist for NASA's "Name the Rover" contest. Looft's name, G.R.I.T, was the New Mexico winner in the high school category. The name will now enter the next round of consideration to become the official name of the Mars 2020 rover.
Looft, a writer for SFHS's The Demon Tattler, also was part of the Spring 2019 intern cohort for the New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism, SFR's partner nonprofit. Looft and three other interns wrote about the sustainability programs offered at Santa Fe Community College's School of Trades, Technology, Sustainability & Professional Studies. Their stories comprised the cover story, "Roadmap for Resilience," published by SFR last June. Looft specifically focused on hydroponics, and how they might be used to grow crops on Mars.
In information provided for the contest, Looft said he came up with his name through "A lot of brainstorming. The morning I found out about the contest, I spent all day making lists of potential names. I then whittled down the list by eliminating names that had been used in the past, were too cliche or didn't fit the criteria. I felt that a strong acronym was a much needed diversion from the current trend of rover names. I also knew that the name had to be tough like the mission."
When he learned about the contest, Looft wrote, he "spent nearly all of my time working on this name both in class and at home. That first day of choosing, I spent every moment thinking about what name was right for this rover. When I got home, I continued my work on my computer, shaving away most of the names I had thought of earlier, asking my dad or texting a friend whether names like 'Virtue' or 'Courage' hit the right note."
The final winner of the naming contest will both name the rover and receive an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.