Three Kentucky students in the running to name a space rover

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Graphic from: NASA's website

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – Three students from Kentucky are in the running to name a rover that will be launched to Mars later this year.

NASA officials say the rover will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

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With more than 28,000 essay submissions received from K-12 students for the “Name the Rover” contest, NASA recruited volunteer contest judges from every U.S. state and territory.

Two of the three Kentuckians hail from Louisville and one is from Ashland. They are among 155 students selected as semifinalists.

The finalists will be announced on January 21 and the winner on February 18.

The winner wins a trip, with up to four family members, to see the Mars 2020 Rover Launch at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July.