The primary scientific focus of NASA’s Perseverance rover is a rock named “Máaz” – the Navajo phrase for “Mars.” Different targets are “tsé lichíí” (pink rock), “yéigo” (diligence) and “séítah” (amongst the sand). The rover’s crew, 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 language, as an enormous contingent of Perseverance science is centered in universities and nationwide labs in New Mexico and Arizona, which embrace conventional Navajo land.
Floor missions assign nicknames to landmarks to offer the mission’s crew members, which quantity within the 1000’s, a standard solution to discuss with rocks, 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.
Earlier than launch, Perseverance’s crew divided the Jezero Crater touchdown web site right into a grid of quadrangles, or “quads,” which can be roughly 1 sq. mile (1.5 sq. kilometers) in measurement. The crew 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’, as Canyon de Chelly is named in Navajo, has over 5,000 years of continuous human occupancy. Starting with the archaic hunter and gatherer individuals and adopted by the Basketmaker Individuals, the Ancestral Puebloan Individuals, after which the Hopi Tribe. After the Hopi, the Early Navajo individuals occupied the canyons, and they’re nonetheless the present individuals who name the canyons residence, within the coronary heart of the Navajo Nation.
Like on Mars, the pink shade of the Tséyi’ rocks derive from the mineral hematite, and the canyon was carved into the sandstone by working water, as soon as considerable additionally on the Crimson Planet.
The crew’s plan was to compile an inventory of names impressed by every quad’s nationwide park that may very well be used to call options noticed by Perseverance. Mission scientists labored with a Navajo (or Diné) engineer on the crew, Aaron Yazzie of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory 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 crew. Some phrases have been impressed by the terrain imaged by Perseverance at its touchdown web site. For instance, one suggestion was “tséwózí bee hazhmeezh,” or “rolling rows of pebbles, like waves.” Yazzie added recommendations like “power” (“bidziil”) and “respect” (“hoł nilį́”) to the record. Perseverance itself was translated to “Ha’ahóni.”
“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 grasp the significance and the importance of studying our language. Our phrases have been used to assist win World Struggle II, and now we’re serving to to navigate and study extra in regards to the planet Mars.”
The Perseverance crew has an inventory of fifty names to begin with. The crew 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 superb scientific and engineering feats, but in addition by the inclusion of our language in such a significant means,” Yazzie stated.
Nonetheless, for Perseverance to acknowledge landmarks which have been 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 provide you with translations that finest resemble Navajo spellings, the crew will use English letters with out particular characters or punctuation to characterize Navajo phrases.
We’re very pleased with certainly one of our very personal, Aaron Yazzie, who’s taking part in an important position in NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Mission,” President Nez stated. “We’re excited for the NASA crew and for Aaron and we see him as being an awesome position mannequin who will encourage extra curiosity in science, know-how, engineering, and arithmetic and hopefully encourage extra of our younger individuals to pursue such careers to make even better impacts and contributions simply as Aaron is doing. Because the mission continues, we provide our prayers for continued success.”
Scientists on the crew have embraced the chance to study Navajo phrases and their that means, stated Perseverance Deputy Undertaking Scientist Katie Stack Morgan of JPL. “This partnership is encouraging the rover’s science crew to be extra considerate in regards to the names being thought-about for options on Mars – what they imply each geologically and to individuals on Earth,” Stack Morgan stated.
A key goal for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, together with the seek for indicators of historical microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and previous local weather, pave the best way for human exploration of the planet, and be the primary mission to gather and cache Martian rock and soil.
Story Supply: Supplies offered by JPL/NASA.