How NASA’s Curiosity Got Its Name

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Ever wonder how the newest Mars rover got its name? It wasn't a scientist or NASA official who gave the machine its moniker - it was a teenager.

Clara Ma named the $2.5 billion project and one-ton roving lab, as the winner of a special contest. From Kansas originally, Ma loved to ask questions as a 6th grader sitting in science class. You might say she was always a bit curious.

“I saw an article about the Mars rover and how you can name it and how the girl who named the two Mars rovers before me, she had entered a contest and won," Ma explained.  "I thought that would be an amazing thing for me to try and do.”

Until 2009, the rover was just known as Mars Science Laboratory.  More than 9,000 students from around the country entered a contest to change that and Ma won. She was then invited to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab to see Curiosity as it was built - and even got to sign her name on the machine that is now breaking new ground with its mission on Mars.

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