Local student picked as a semifinalist to name next Mars rover

Spence finds out if he won the contest in almost exactly one month.

SALEM, Va. – Jacobie Spence is a junior at Salem High School and says that, “For the longest time, I mean even now, I really wanted to just see what it would be like to go to Mars.”

He may not be old enough to do that yet, but he can have a hand in the next mission to find life on Mars. NASA offered an opportunity for students across the country to name the Mars 2020 Rover.

Spence is one of 156 students, grades K-12, nationwide picked as a semifinalist. He initially didn’t see it as a big deal, but then he found out his odds of getting this far were 50 in 9,000.

He chose the name, ‘Elpis.’ He wrote that Pandora’s box, once opened, “came death, greed, disease, war and hatred. What remained was Elpis, the spirit of hope.”

You can find Spence’s short essay here.

He added in an interview with 10 News, “If you can dream of a better tomorrow, it makes life worth living.”

We find out Feb. 18 if Elpis will be launched this summer, or if it will go under another name. Before then, we find out Tuesday, Jan. 21, if Elpis makes it to the final 9. If it does, the public can vote.

If Spence’s name and essay win, he and his family will get to go see the Mars rover launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida this coming summer.

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