How did Sojourner, the first rover NASA successfully landed on Mars, get its name? The rover and its flight spare were named through a contest open to all students under 18. First place was Sojourner Truth, an African American abolitionist and women's rights activist. The flight spare was named after Marie Curie, the famous physicist and chemist. The Pathfinder Sojourner mission was not only a successful mission to Mars, but it engaged the public in planetary exploration.