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Student Who Named The Mars Rover 'Curiosity' As An 11-Year-Old Gets Space Exploration As Well As Anyone

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More than three years before the Mars Rover Curiosity touched down on the Red Planet, an 11-year-old in Kansas was only dreaming about how she could get involved in space exploration.

Now that Clara Ma has grown up and had the chance to see the rover touch down, she hasn't lost her sense of wonder. In a column that she penned for Mashable, she writes about how she came up with the name. She says she first read about the contest to name the newest Mars Rover in a kids' issue of TIME Magazine while she was at school one day. It didn't take her long to come up with the perfect name: Curiosity. She says she rushed home to pen the winning essay:

Curiosity is an everlasting flame that burns in everyone's mind. It makes me get out of bed in the morning and wonder what surprises life will throw at me that day. Curiosity is such a powerful force. Without it, we wouldn't be who we are today. When I was younger, I wondered, 'Why is the sky blue?', 'Why do the stars twinkle?', 'Why am I me?', and I still do.

Based on her latest essay, we'd venture to say she probably gets science and space exploration as much as anyone who works at JPL or NASA (including the dude with the crazy mohawk). She writes about how she first became fascinated with space:

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My grandmother lived in China, thousands of miles away from my home in Kansas. I loved the stars because they kept us together even when we were apart. They were always there, yet there was so much I didn’t know about them. That’s what I love so much about space. No matter how much we learn, it will always possess a certain degree of mystery.

She reflects on how space exploration means something different now than it did during the midcentury Space Race:

In the past, space exploration may have been a competition to see who got somewhere first or the fastest. But now, it is one of the few things that bring people together. Science is a language that needs no translation. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you look like — you just have to have a thirst for knowledge and a passion for learning in order to succeed.

The entire essay is worth a read.