With an increasing number of space missions, NASA occasionally relies on the public—and schoolchildren in particular— to dream up imaginative names. That technique has paid off nicely in the past. Last summer, for instance, the robotic rover that dawdled across the Martian landscape received the name Sojourner, after abolitionist Sojourner Truth, from a teenager who won a naming contest.

NASA currently is holding several name games. AGU and NASA are cosponsoring a contest for schoolchildren in the 8th–12th grades to name the first in a series of Earth Observing System spacecraft, which could be launched as early as the end of 1998. Currently known by the catchy name of EOS-AM, the satellite will study the Earth's land, oceans, atmosphere, ice, and life as a total integrated system.