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The name was revealed this morning in the ‘Mars Yard’ at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, in the United Kingdom, where the rover is being built.ESA astronaut Tim Peake met the competition entrants who chose the winning name, and toured the facility with UK Science Minister Chris Skidmore.
The Exo Mars rover and platform will launch to the Red Planet in 2020.ESA has a long tradition of naming its missions for great scientists, including Newton, Planck and Euclid.“This name reminds us that it is in the human genes to explore.A panel of experts chose ‘Rosalind Franklin’ from over 36 000 entries submitted by citizens from all ESA Member States, following a competition launched by the UK Space Agency in July last year.The Exo Mars rover will be the first of its kind to combine the capability to roam around Mars and to study it at depth.“Returning martian samples is a huge challenge that will require multiple missions, each one successively more complex than the one before,” says David Parker, ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration. We want to delve into its mysteries and bring back knowledge and benefits to people on Earth.Returned planetary samples are truly the gift that keeps on giving – scientific treasure for generations to come,” he adds.“This rover will scout the martian surface equipped with next-generation instruments – a fully-fledged automated laboratory on Mars,” says Tim.“With it, we are building on our European heritage in robotic exploration, and at the same time devising new technologies.” The rover will relay data to Earth through the Trace Gas Orbiter, a spacecraft searching for tiny amounts of gases in the martian atmosphere that might be linked to biological or geological activity since 2016. Last November a group of experts chose Oxia Planum near the martian equator to explore an ancient environment that was once water-rich and that could have been colonised by primitive life.The Exo Mars rover that will search for the building blocks of life on the Red Planet has a name: Rosalind Franklin.The prominent scientist behind the discovery of the structure of DNA will have her symbolic footprint on Mars in 2021.