OKANOGAN – A Virginia Grainger Elementary School first-grader is slated to have his name included on a list of students scheduled to blast off to Mars in a few years.
Cyprus Kelley, a student in Anna Rawson’s class, participated in an online activity of the Pogue Planetarium, a learning facility of the Grand Prairie Independent School District in Grand Prairie, Texas. The activity was related to the landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars.
Kelley “was provided this program and a very unique opportunity while visiting his grandparents in Texas,” said Grainger Principal Jeremy Clark.
“I was first interested in the moon landings, but then I learned they are not doing Apollo missions any more so Mars sounded pretty good,” said Kelley. He said he liked Apollo “because I really liked the first man stepping on the moon.”
Chris Miller, director of the planetarium, told Rawson via email that Grand Prairie students were invited to participate in the online activity and “somehow young Mr. Kelley found out about it and did all of our daily activities and submitted his evidence of participation.”
Miller continued, “I think I enjoyed his submission more than any of those from the students who live here.”
All students who participated the activities will get their names inscribed on the next rocket to Mars, Miller said.
“The rocket won’t make that journey for six years, but when it does, his name will be on it,” he said.
“After his 30-minute, impromptu, step-by-step presentation of Perseverance’s EDL process, complete with a labeled drawing to go with, Cyprus shared this very exciting news with his classmates,” Rawson said.
Kelley received a “boarding pass” for his name’s trip.
“I can attest to the enjoyment that he brings, and through his passion for all-things space he has provided us with opportunities to learn more about the open sky above,” said Rawson.
Perseverance was launched July 30, 2020, and landed in Jezero Crater, Mars, on Feb. 18, 2021.
According to NASA, its key objectives are to:
-Explore a geologically diverse landing site.
-Assess ancient habitability.
-Seek signs of ancient life, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time.
-Gather rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by a future NASA mission.
-Demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration.