ESA’s new Mars rover has a name: Rosalind Franklin

The ExoMars 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.  

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 ExoMars rover will be the first of its kind to combine the capability to roam around Mars and to study it at depth. The Red Planet has hosted water in the past, but has a dry surface exposed to harsh radiation today.

The rover bearing Rosalind Franklin’s name will drill down to two metres into the surface to sample the soil, analyse its composition and search for evidence of past – and perhaps even present – life buried underground.  

The rover is part of the ExoMars programme, a joint endeavour between ESA and the Russian State Space Corporation, Roscosmos.

"This rover will scout the martian surface equipped with next-generation instruments – a fully-fledged automated laboratory on Mars." With it, we are building on our European heritage in robotic exploration, and at the same time devising new technologies.”  Tim Peake​

ESA has been exploring Mars for more than 15 years, starting with Mars Express and continuing with the two ExoMars missions, keeping a European presence at the Red Planet into the next decade.

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