NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission honors Navajo language

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission honors Navajo language
Canyon de Chelly Nationwide Monument (“Tséyi’” in Navajo) in Arizona is situated on Navajo Nation land. Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Working with the Navajo Nation, the rover staff has named options on Mars with phrases from the Navajo language.

The primary scientific focus of NASA’s Perseverance rover is a rock named “Máaz”—the Navajo phrase for “Mars.” The rover’s staff, in collaboration with the Navajo Nation Workplace of the President and Vice President, has been naming options of scientific curiosity with phrases within the Navajo .

Floor missions assign nicknames to landmarks to supply the mission’s staff members, which quantity within the , a typical strategy to consult with , soils, and different geologic options of curiosity. Earlier rover groups have named options after areas of geologic curiosity on Earth in addition to individuals and locations associated to expeditions. Though the Worldwide Astronomical Union designates official names for options, these casual names are used as reference factors by the staff.

Earlier than launch, Perseverance’s staff divided the Jezero Crater touchdown website right into a grid of quadrangles, or “quads,” which might be roughly 1 sq. mile (1.5 sq. kilometers) in measurement. The staff determined to call these quads after nationwide parks and preserves on Earth with comparable geology. Perseverance touched down within the quad named for Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly Nationwide Monument (Tséyi’ in Navajo), within the coronary heart of the Navajo Nation. The staff’s plan was to compile an inventory of names impressed by every quad’s nationwide park that might be used to call options noticed by Perseverance. Mission scientists labored with a Navajo (or Diné) engineer on the staff, Aaron Yazzie of NASA’s Jet Propulsion in Southern California, to hunt the Navajo Nation’s permission and collaboration in naming new options on Mars.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer, and their advisors made an inventory of phrases within the Navajo language out there to the rover’s staff. Some phrases had been impressed by the terrain imaged by Perseverance at its touchdown website. For instance, one suggestion was “tséwózí bee hazhmeezh,” or “rolling rows of pebbles, like waves.” Yazzie added recommendations like “energy” (“bidziil”) and “respect” (“hoł nilį́”) to the checklist. Perseverance itself was translated to “Ha’ahóni.”

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission honors Navajo language
This rock, referred to as “Máaz” (the Navajo phrase for “Mars”), is the primary characteristic of scientific curiosity to be studied by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“The partnership that the Nez-Lizer Administration has constructed with NASA will assist to revitalize our Navajo language,” stated Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “We hope that having our language used within the Perseverance mission will encourage extra of our younger Navajo individuals to know the significance and the importance of studying our language. Our phrases had been used to assist win World Warfare II, and now we’re serving to to navigate and study extra in regards to the planet Mars.”

The Perseverance staff has an inventory of 50 names to start out with. The staff will work with the Navajo Nation on extra names sooner or later because the rover continues to discover.

“This fateful touchdown on Mars has created a particular alternative to encourage Navajo youth not simply by way of wonderful scientific and engineering feats, but additionally by way of the inclusion of our language in such a significant approach,” Yazzie stated.

Nonetheless, for Perseverance to acknowledge landmarks which were labeled in Navajo, it must be “taught” the language. The accent marks used within the English alphabet to convey the distinctive intonation of the Navajo language can’t be learn by the pc languages Perseverance makes use of. Yazzie famous that whereas they work exhausting to give you translations that greatest resemble Navajo spellings, the staff will use English letters with out particular characters or punctuation to symbolize Navajo phrases.

“We’re very pleased with one in all our very personal, Aaron Yazzie, who’s enjoying a significant position in NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Mission,” President Nez stated. “We’re excited for the NASA staff and for Aaron and we see him as being an excellent position mannequin who will encourage extra curiosity within the STEM fields of examine and hopefully encourage extra of our younger individuals to pursue STEM careers to make even higher impacts and contributions simply as Aaron is doing. Because the mission continues, we provide our prayers for success.”

Scientists on the staff have embraced the chance to study Navajo phrases and their which means, stated Perseverance Deputy Undertaking Scientist Katie Stack Morgan of JPL. “This partnership is encouraging the rover’s science staff to be extra considerate in regards to the names being thought of for options on Mars—what they imply each geologically and to individuals on Earth,” Stack Morgan stated.

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission honors Navajo language (2021, March 12)
retrieved 12 March 2021

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