NASA's Mars 2020 helicopter is named 'Ingenuity' by Alabama high school teen

A high school student in the US state of Alabama beat 28,000 others in an essay writing competition to win the honour of naming NASA’s first Mars helicopter.

The junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Vaneeza Rupani, came up with the name ‘Ingenuity’ during NASA’s ‘Name the Rover’ essay contest.

According to the space agency, Rupani wrote, “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.”

“It was really cool I got to be a part of something like this,” Rupani told The Associated Press.

In March, NASA had announced that seventh-grader Alexander Mather's essay had earned him the honour of naming NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. The 13-year-old, who wants to get a degree in engineering or science and hopes to work at the space agency as an engineer, had named the rover ‘Perseverance’.

Having received a number of stellar essays, NASA says officials had to go back to submitted essays to choose a name for the helicopter. While the associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen had made the choice for the rover's name, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine chose the name for the helicopter.

Bridenstine posted about the same on Twitter. “I’m proud to name it Ingenuity…Ingenuity rarely gets far without perseverance, so it’s fitting it will ride on @NASAPersevere,” he wrote.

NASA's Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July. They will land at Jezero Crater on Mars on 18 February 2021.