Artist’s concept of ESA’s ExoMars rover on Mars, via ESA/Planetary Society.
The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to launch a rover to Mars at the next launch window, in 2020, with a landing due in 2021. The rover’s job, in part, will be to drill down to 6.5 feet (2 meters) below Mars’ surface – past the dry, radiation-drenched upper surface – to a depth where, perhaps, some evidence of past or present life may still exist. So it’s appropriate that this life-seeking robot will be named for a scientist who played a key role in understanding earthly life: Rosalind Franklin. She was one of the great seekers of the mysterious structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, more commonly known by its abbreviation DNA. Her work helped reveal DNA’s famous double helix structure in the early 1950s. ESA said in an announcement on February 7, 2019:
The prominent scientist behind the discovery of the structure of DNA will have her symbolic footprint on Mars in 2021.
A panel of experts chose the name Rosalind Franklin from over 36,000 entries submitted by citizens from all ESA Member States, following a competition launched by the U.K. Space Agency in July last year.
ESA revealed ...