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Mars Probe Takes the Name Sojourner
Committee lauds Mars probe for honoring Truth

Battle Creek, Mich. - Members of the Sojourner Truth 200th Anniversary Committee are following the excitement in the scientific community after the successful deliver of the "Sojourner" rover to Mars. The rover was transported as a part of the world celebrated Mars Pathfinder mission.

"It's incredible timing that a rover named after Sojourner Truth is making new history," said Velma Clay, committee chairperson. "What better time than during the 200th anniversary of Sojourner's birth."

According to announcements by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the name Sojourner was chosen for the Mars Pathfinder rover after a year-long, worldwide competition initiated by The Planetary Society of Pasadena, Calif. and supported by JPL staff. Students up to 18-years-old were invited to select a heroine and submit an essay about her historical accomplishments. The essays had to address how the accomplishments of the proposed namesake would translate to the Martian environment.

Valerie Ambroise, 12, of Bridgeport, Conn., suggested Truth, an African-American who escaped from slavery and became a leading spokeswoman for the abolitionist movement despite her lack of formal education. She was also a champion of women's rights, famous for her "Ain't I Woman" address at the Women's Convention of 1851 in Akron, Ohio. Sojourner Truth, whose legal name was Isabella Hardenbergh, made it her mission to "travel up and down the land," advocating the rights of all people to be free and the rights of women to participate fully in society.

"She would have been amazed at the technological progress that Americans have made and impressed at being honored with such an important piece of the Mars project being named after her," said Clay.

The name Sojourner was selected because it means "traveler." JPL scientists and engineers working on the Mars Pathfinder project and Planetary Society staff members reviewed the 3,500 total entries received from all over the world, including essays from students living in Canada, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Poland and Russia. Nearly 1,700 of the essays were submitted by students aged 5 to 18 years old.


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