NASA is highlighting the Navajo language with its newest Mars mission.
After touchdown efficiently on the Pink Planet Feb. 18, NASA’s Perseverance rover is exploring, focusing its sights on a rock named “Máaz,” the Navajo phrase for “Mars.” The staff behind the rover is in collaboration with the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President, and collectively they’ve been naming completely different options on the Martian floor utilizing phrases within the Navajo language.
Mission scientists at NASA labored with Navajo (or Diné) staff member Aaron Yazzie, an engineer for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission on the company’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California to hunt the Navajo Nation’s permission and collaboration to call these options. (Yazzie constructed the drill bits that the rover will use to gather samples on the planet.) Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer and their advisors created a listing of Navajo language phrases that the groups at NASA would have the ability to use for the mission.
“The partnership that the Nez-Lizer Administration has constructed with NASA will assist to revitalize our Navajo language,” President Nez said in a NASA statement. “We hope that having our language used within the Perseverance mission will encourage extra of our younger Navajo folks to know the significance and the importance of studying our language. Our phrases had been used to assist win World Struggle II, and now we’re serving to to navigate and be taught extra in regards to the planet Mars.”
By assigning names to native landmarks on Mars, it makes it simpler for the mission staff members to confer with options like rocks and soils. Whereas the planetary options have formal names given by the International Astronomical Union, these casual names are utilized by the staff.
“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 method,” Yazzie mentioned within the NASA assertion.
The Navajo Nation staff offered the rover staff with a listing of 50 phrases that they might use to begin with and can work collectively on extra names because the rover explores extra. This listing contains names like “Máaz” and “tséwózí bee hazhmeezh” (which implies “rolling rows of pebbles, like waves”), “bidziil” (which implies “energy”) and “hoł nilį́” (which implies “respect”). The Navajo Nation staff even included the Navajo language phrase for “Perseverance” which interprets to “Ha’ahóni.”
The rover was set to land in one in every of many quadrangles mapped out on a grid in Jezero Crater, with every “quad” measuring about 1 sq. mile (1.5 sq. kilometers) in dimension. They named these quads after pure areas on Earth with related geological options, and Perseverance ended up touching down within the quad named after Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly Nationwide Monument, or Tséyi within the Navajo language, which is within the coronary heart of the Navajo Nation.
Now, for Perseverance to determine these options within the Navajo language, it has to be taught the language. Nevertheless, the constraints of the English language aren’t in a position to totally categorical the intonation and accents within the Navajo phrases, so the staff is working to give you translations that higher signify Navajo spellings. Within the meantime, they’re utilizing English letters to signify the Navajo phrases. Mission scientists and staff members are additionally taking this chance to be taught Navajo phrases.
“This partnership is encouraging the rover’s science staff to be extra considerate in regards to the names being thought-about for options on Mars — what they imply each geologically and to folks on Earth,” Perseverance Deputy Undertaking Scientist Katie Stack Morgan of JPL mentioned in the identical assertion.
House.com spoke with Yazzie at JPL on Feb. 18 instantly following the successful landing of the rover, which is able to seek for indicators of historical life on Mars. “We’re so excited, I’m so relieved, that is such an incredible day,” Yazzie informed House.com.
“It feels unreal and it’s unreal to be a part of such a historic [mission]” Yazzie added. “It seems like we’re contributing information to the entire world on behalf of humanity. The likelihood that we would discover historical microbial life on Mars, [it] could be an enormous discovery and I am so excited that I also have a small half in that discovery.”
“We’re very pleased with one in every of our very personal, Aaron Yazzie, who’s taking part in a significant function in NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Mission,” President Nez mentioned. “We’re excited for the NASA staff and for Aaron and we see him as being an incredible function mannequin who will encourage extra curiosity within the STEM fields of examine and hopefully encourage extra of our younger folks to pursue STEM careers to make even larger impacts and contributions simply as Aaron is doing. Because the mission continues, we provide our prayers for continued success.”
E mail Chelsea Gohd at email@example.com or observe her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.