Gabbi Cormier, an eighth-grader at Valley Middle School, has been selected as a semifinalist in a nationwide contest to name the information-gathering robot that NASA plans to send to Mars next year.

Students across the United States were invited to enter the Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” essay contest. Fifty-two semifinalists per grade level group -- kindergarten to fourth-graders, fifth- to eighth-graders and ninth- to 12th-graders -- were selected.

Cormier submitted the name “Cueillir,” which is French for “gatherer,” according to a news release from Grand Forks Public Schools.

“The term ‘gatherer’ means one who collects information in an effort to better understand complicated things,” Cormier said.

The Mars 2020 rover is a piece of robotic equipment, weighing more than 2,300 pounds, which will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for scientists to study back on Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the “red planet.”

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“We are most proud of Gabbi and her accomplishments thus far,” said Todd Selk, principal at Valley Middle School. “She is creative, curious and enthusiastic about her learning. On top of that, Gabbi is a wonderful young person, representing herself and our school with the highest integrity.”

The naming contest partnership is part of the Space Act Agreement between the NASA, Future Engineers and Battelle Education organizations.

Three finalists per grade level group will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 21, and will advance to the final round of judging, which includes a public vote. NASA plans to announce the selected rover name Feb. 18, exactly one year before the rover is scheduled to land on the surface of Mars.

The winner of the “Name the Rover” contest will win a trip with up to four family members to see the Mars 2020 rover launch.