This image shows a close-up view of the rock target named “Máaz” from the SuperCam instrument on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. It was taken by SuperCam’s Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) on March 2, 2021 (the 12th Martian day, or sol,” Perseverance’s mission on Mars). “Máaz” means Mars in the Navajo language.

Photo by: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS

NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS

NASA is using Navajo Language to Name Rocks and Soil on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance team is working in tandem with the Navajo Nation to use their native language in defining rocks and soil found on Mars. 50 words have been approved to name these landmarks.

March 19, 2021

The Navajo language is being used to name landmarks and features on Mars, according to NASA. The Navajo Nation is joining forces with the Perseverance rover’s team to name features with “scientific interest” in the native language. For instance, a rock has been named “Máaz,” which is the Navajo term for “Mars.”

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer created a list of words in the Navajo language eligible for the rover’s team to use to name various landmarks. This is a common practice of NASA to appoint informal names, which aids mission’s members in maintaining the various features within all projects.

Navajo Nation President Nez explained in a statement: "We hope that having our language used in the Perseverance mission will inspire more of our young Navajo people to understand the importance and the significance of learning our language. Our words were used to help win World War II, and now we are helping to navigate and learn more about the planet Mars.”

50 Navajo words have been approved and provided for the rover team, with words such as “strength” (“bidziil”) and “respect” (“hoł nilį́”), along with the Perseverance being translated to “Ha'ahóni."

This rock, called “Máaz” (the Navajo word for “Mars”), is the first feature of scientific interest to be studied by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.

Photo by: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This rock, called “Máaz” (the Navajo word for “Mars”), is the first feature of scientific interest to be studied by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.

The Perseverance rover reads computer languages through the English alphabet. Because it cannot interpret the Navajo language, the NASA team uses English letters without special characters or punctuation to illustrate the Navajo vocabulary.

Aaron Yazzie of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California went on to explain, “this fateful landing on Mars has created a special opportunity to inspire Navajo youth not just through amazing scientific and engineering feats, but also through the inclusion of our language in such a meaningful way.”

Be sure to keep an eye out for new landmarks named after the Navajo language.

Next Up

Mars is Getting International

Things are getting a little crowded at the red planet.

Meet Ingenuity: NASA’s First Mars Helicopter

Perseverance with Ingenuity strapped to its belly launched on July 30, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Mars Rover and Mars Helicopter safely landed on the dusty surface at 3:55P ET on February 18, 2021, after traveling nearly 292.5 million miles.

Ingenuity Takes First Flight on Mars

In a historic first, Ingenuity successfully flew on the Red Planet. The Mars helicopter was in the air for about 40 seconds.

Countdown to the Mars Rover Landing

The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover and Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, are closer to Mars than ever before as touch down at the Jezero crater is scheduled for February 18, 2021. Let’s take a look back at its launch and learn how it will land on the Red Planet.

Why Charting the Most Extreme Objects in the Solar System Matters

So the astronomers called it “FarFarOut”, which is mostly a joke because the last time they found such a distant object it they nicknamed it “FarOut”, and this new world is much, much, farther out.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Has Landed on Mars

After a harrowing landing and traveling nearly 292.5 million miles, NASA's Perseverance with Ingenuity touched down on Mars at 3:55P ET today, February 18, 2021.Congratulations to the teams at NASA and JPL. We cannot wait to see what research comes from this incredible mission.Experience more Mars on discovery+. Download and subscribe to stream NASA Mars Landing: Inside the Mission and When We Left Earth.

How Common are Water Worlds in the Galaxy?

If Kevin Costner wanted to make a sequel, he’s got plenty of opportunities. Water is by far the most common molecule in the universe. It’s made of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Hydrogen is element number 1 (both on the period table and in abundance), and has been hanging around since the first 15 minutes of the Big Bang. Oxygen is forged in the hearts of sun-like stars, and spreads around when those stars die and turn themselves inside out. And since sun-like stars are also very popular, oxygen gets quite a boost.

It’s Time to Return to the Land of the Ice Giants

30 years--It’s been over 30 years since the Voyager 2’s historic flyby of Uranus and Neptune, the outermost and most mysterious planets in the solar system. It’s time to go back.

Celebrate the I Heart Pluto Festival, An Ode to the Beloved Planet

Yes, we said "planet." Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona during the month of February in 1930.Last year on the 90th Anniversary of the discovery, the observatory held its first I Heart Pluto Festival. This year you can be a part of the action.

NASA and SpaceX are Going on a Date, and We're All Invited

Save the date--On May 27th, if everything goes as planned, a rocket will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Watch SPACE LAUNCH LIVE: AMERICA RETURNS TO SPACE on Discovery and Science Channel starting at 2P ET.
Related To: