After fielding more than 36,000 ideas from the public, the European Space Agency has settled on a name for its new ExoMars rover: Rosalind Franklin.
Franklin was a British chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work was critical to discovering the structure of DNA. She also made key contributions to the study of coal, graphite, and viruses. She died in 1958.
“This name reminds us that it is in the human genes to explore,” ESA Director General Jan Woerner said. “Science is in our DNA, and in everything we do at ESA. Rosalind the rover captures this spirit and carries us all to the forefront of space exploration.”
The Rosalind Franklin rover — which will be used to drill down into the soil of Mars and analyze its makeup — will be launched next year in a collaborative mission with the Russian space agency.
The rover will be the first of its kind to combine the capability to roam around Mars and to study it at depth, according to the ESA.