Vaneeza Rupani holding photo of Mars helicopter.

Mars Helicopter "Ingenuity" - Photo Source: NASA

Mars helicopter

TCHS Junior Names NASA Mars Helicopter

  • April 30, 2020

    Congratulations to Tuscaloosa County High School junior Vaneeza Rupani! Vaneeza's essay was chosen as the name for NASA's Mars helicopter. "Ingenuity," which is the name Vaneeza proposed in her essay, will mark NASA's first attempt at powered flight on another planet. Vaneeza was one of 28,000 students across the nation who entered the essay contest.

    Read the story below, from the NASA Science Mars Exploration Program web site:

    Destined to become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet, NASA's Mars Helicopter officially has received a new name: Ingenuity.

    Vaneeza Rupani, a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name and the motivation behind it during NASA's "Name the Rover" essay contest.

    "The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration," Rupani wrote in her contest submission. "Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe."

    Rupani's was among 28,000 essays submitted to NASA by K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory recommending names for the the next Mars rover. In March, the agency announced that seventh grader Alexander Mather's essay earned him the honor of naming the rover Perseverance. But with so many good essays, it seemed fitting to also choose a name for the helicopter that will accompany the rover to Mars. So NASA officials went back to the submitted essays to choose a name for the helicopter. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, made the choice for the rover's name, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine chose the name for the helicopter.

    "Ingenuity encapsulates the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase for everyone when it takes off next year as the first aircraft on another planet’s surface," said Bridenstine. "It took a lot of hard and ingenious work to get the helicopter ready and then placed on the rover, and there’s a lot more going to be required. I was happy we had another great name from the naming contest finalists from which I was able to select something so representative of this exciting part of our next mission to Mars."

    "I am proud that NASA’s Mars Helicopter will be named by Vaneeza Rupani of Northport, Alabama," said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama. "This is a unique privilege. Ms. Rupani’s essay on why she chose the name 'Ingenuity' highlights her creativity, originality, and intelligence. Her grasp on the importance of exploration is extraordinary, and I am confident that she has a bright future ahead. Congratulations to Ms. Rupani on being selected for this prestigious honor."