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How to pronounce 'Jezero crater.' (Yes, you may be doing it wrong.)

If you read about NASA's Perseverance rover, come across the name of its landing site on Mars — Jezero Crater — and pronounce it in your head, you may be doing it wrong. Many people at NASA aren't pronouncing it correctly, either. 

NASA's Perseverance mission will attempt to land on Mars today (Feb. 18). Once it reaches the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater, the rover will use its seven instruments and the help of a helicopter called Ingenuity to study Earth's neighboring planet like never before. 

Sending this $2.7 billion science project to Mars required NASA to think a lot about where exactly to drop the mission. It took about five years for NASA to select a landing site, and on Nov. 19, 2018, NASA announced it would send Perseverance (then known simply as the Mars 2020 rover) to a dried-up lake bed called Jezero Crater. 

Now, as Americans get ready for Perseverance to touch down in Jezero Crater today, it's time we all learn to pronounce the crater's name. 

Related: How to watch NASA's Perseverance rover land on Mars
Perseverance rover's Mars landing: Everything you need to know

"Jezero" is a slavic word meaning "lake." The Planetary Society, a non-profit advocating for space exploration, published an audio clip back in 2018 (which you can download as an M4A audio file) in which a person pronounces the name correctly. Pro-tip for English speakers: Think of the letter "J" as sounding more like the letter "Y." 

"It is correctly pronounced something like 'YEH-zuh-doh,' though [Perseverance] mission team members typically pronounce it 'DZEH-zuh-row,'" wrote planetary geologist and science communicator Emily Lakdawalla in an article published by The Planetary Society. Two and half years later, mission team members are still pronouncing "Jezero" with a hard "J" (here is one example). 

Video: How to pronounce 'Jezero' in Croatian

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NASA's Mars 2020 will land in Jezero Crater, pictured here. The image was taken by instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which regularly takes images of potential landing sites for future missions.

A view of the Perseverance rover's landing site in Jezero Crater as seen by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL)
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This image shows the remains of an ancient delta in Jezero Crater, which NASA's Perseverance Mars rover will explore for signs of fossilized microbial life. The image was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA's Mars Express orbiter.

This image shows the remains of an ancient delta in Jezero Crater. It was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA's Mars Express orbiter. (Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)
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The white circle near the center of this image of Mars represents the location where NASA’s Perseverance rover is expected to land on Feb. 18, 2021. The landing ellipse, measuring 4.8 miles by 4.1 miles (7.7 kilometers by 6.6 kilometers), places the rover at the site of an ancient river delta which could harbor signs of fossilized microbial life. The fan-like shape of the delta is visible in this image, as is the crater rim. The crater was once filled with a lake several hundred feet deep. The basemap image featured here was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera aboard the ESA (European Space Agency) Mars Express orbiter. Light color processing has been applied to highlight surface features.

The white circle near the center of this image of Mars represents the location where NASA’s Perseverance rover is expected to land. (Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU-Berlin/NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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This annotated map of Jezero Crater on Mars was created from the red, green and blue channels of the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA’s Mars Express, combined with high-resolution data from its nadir channel, which is directed perpendicular to the surface of Mars.

This annotated map of Jezero Crater on Mars was created using data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA's Mars Express orbiter. (Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)
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This map shows regions in and around Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site of NASA's Perseverance rover. The green circle represents the rover's landing ellipse. The map was created in a tool called Campaign Analysis Mapping and Planning (CAMP), developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Southern California, which manages the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Data for the map was provided by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), one of the cameras aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, also managed by JPL. The University of Arizona, in Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colorado.

This map shows regions in and around Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site of NASA's Perseverance rover. The green circle represents the rover's landing ellipse. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS/University of Arizona)
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This elevation map of Jezero Crater on Mars was created from ESA Mars Express data.

This elevation map of Jezero Crater on Mars was created from ESA Mars Express data. (Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

"Jezero" is in good company. There are many space names, such as "Ryugu," "Iapetus," "'Oumuamua" and "Sleipnir Fossa" that encourage astronomy enthusiasts to tap into the different languages around the world. 

Space.com is providing live updates on the landing of NASA's Perseverance mission.

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