SUBSCRIBE NOW
$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.

NASA's next Mars rover could be named by Central York fourth grader

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Eamon Reilly, 10, sits in the planetarium at Central York Learning Center Friday, January 24, 2020. The Sinking Springs Elementary School fourth grader is one of nine national finalists in NASA's Name the Rover contest. His rover name, Tenacity, was chosen from 28,000 entries. Bill Kalina photo

A York County fourth grader has a chance to make history this year by naming NASA's next Mars rover, and he might even get to travel to Cape Canaveral to see the launch.

Eamon Reilly, 10, is one of nine finalists in a nationwide contest to name the latest Mars rover. He argues the probe should be named Tenacity, and someday, he hopes to work at NASA as a scientist.

Eamon Reilly, 10, sits in the planetarium at Central York Learning Center Friday, January 24, 2020. The Sinking Springs Elementary School fourth grader is one of nine national finalists in NASA's Name the Rover contest. His rover name, Tenacity, was chosen from 28,000 entries. Bill Kalina photo

"If I win the contest, then I will have named the last Mars rover and be building the next Mars rover," he said.

Eamon, who attends Sinking Springs Elementary School in the Central York School District, bested nearly 30,000 other students across the United States to become a finalist in the naming contest.

Eamon Reilly, 10, shows off some stickers he got while visiting the planetarium at Central York Learning Center Friday, January 24, 2020. The Sinking Springs Elementary School fourth grader is one of nine national finalists in NASA's Name the Rover contest. His rover name, Tenacity, was chosen from 28,000 entries. Bill Kalina photo

The contest was made possible by a partnership among NASA; Future Engineers, an online education program based in Burbank, California; and Battelle, a nonprofit science and technology development organization based in Columbus, Ohio.

The other finalists in the naming contest are Endurance, Promise, Perseverance, Vision, Ingenuity, Fortitude, Clarity and Courage.

The next Mars rover will attempt to find evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars and will be capable of drilling beneath the surface of the planet to collect rock and dirt samples for future study, NASA states on its website.

Eamon Reilly, 10, and his mother Beth talk about the Mars Rover contest at Central York Learning Center Friday, January 24, 2020. Eamon, a Sinking Springs Elementary School fourth grader, is one of nine national finalists in NASA's Name the Rover contest. His rover name, Tenacity, was chosen from 28,000 entries. Bill Kalina photo

The names of all past Mars rovers have been decided by students via a national contest, beginning with Sojourner in 1997, Spirit and Opportunity in 2003, and Curiosity in 2012, said Carolina Martinez, spokeswoman for NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

The online public poll results will be considered as part of NASA's final decision, and the contest closes at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27. Visit mars.nasa.gov to vote.

If Eamon wins, NASA will fly him down to Cape Canaveral, Florida, this summer to see the rover launch.

He said he's never been on a plane before and would be excited to make the trip.

"We already feel like winners, no matter what," said Beth Reilly, Eamon's mom. "It’s just been wonderful to see everybody come together."

Everyone at Eamon's school voted for him online, Reilly said, and the students have all rallied to support Eamon and celebrate his accomplishment.

Eamon said he loves math and was excited to be doing the same calculations as real NASA scientists when he and his classmates were learning about the Mars Rover in school.

When he's not learning about outer space and the potential for discovering life on other planets, Eamon said he likes to play the piano and play with Pokemon cards.

The final contest winner will be announced in March.

More:First space-baked cookies took 2 hours in experimental oven

More:'Stick a fork in it': Central York board all but scuttles later school start times