By Zhao Shengnan
BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Rover's identity owes debt to imagination of daughter of Chinese immigrants
Clara Ma, the daughter of Chinese immigrants to the US, became part of space history when she witnessed one of the most sophisticated instruments ever used to explore another world successfully land on Mars with a name suggested by her.
The $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory and its Curiosity rover landed on the Red Planet on Sunday to determine if life ever existed there.
Clara, from Kansas, suggested the name Curiosity in a winning essay submitted to NASA three years ago.
Clara, now 15, was a special guest at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for the historic landing, according to the Kansas City Star newspaper.
She also wrote her name inside the rover with a marker pen and experienced the thrill of watching the car-size rover liftoff in November from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the newspaper said.
"Something like this is probably never going to happen to me again, so I just want to enjoy every single moment," Clara was quoted as saying as she waited in the control room where the anticipation and anxiety was building.
This is witnessing history and "I am going to be part of it", she said.
Clara's 14-year-old sister, Renny, and her parents, Lisheng Cao and Frank Ma, accompanied her to the laboratory.
Both parents graduated from Tsinghua University and immigrated to the US in the 1990s, according to a People's Daily article.
Her father was surprised at the invitation, saying it was an especially rare chance for Chinese Americans, the article said.
Clara, a sixth-grader at the time, suggested Curiosity because, as she wrote in the beginning of the essay, "it 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".
Her essay was one of nine finalists out of more than 9,000 submitted.
"It (curiosity) was the first thing that popped into my mind, and I really liked it, because I was just really curious as a child and I asked so many questions. And I thought it'd be a really good fit for a rover that was going to Mars," Clara told Washington-based National Public Radio.
Ma's interest in space seemed mainly to stem from her grandmother. "My grandma, when she came from China to visit us in the US, would just point out all of these constellations to me, you know, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper. And the stars are like the only constant things in the sky. They're the same in China and in the US, and I just thought it was really, really cool," she said.
According to the Kansas City Star, Clara intends to take science courses for the forthcoming sophomore year at high school until she graduates and would like to study it in college. Her schedule was also packed with activities, including making an educational film for children and exploring the possibility, a treasured dream, of receiving an internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"I just think it's always good to learn new things, to move forward. And Curiosity isn't just a rover that's going to be studying things up in Mars. It's not just metal and titanium and a body and wheels. It's actually people's emotions and labor and hard work and love and care, and it's all put together in that rover, and it brings people together from all across the world," she told national radio.
"If you can use science to bring people together to discover new things and to learn new things and to advance humanity as a whole, that's always an amazing thing to do, and I think it's totally worthwhile to be going to Mars."
(Source: China Daily)