The Member of Parliament for Kingswood and Science Minister Chris Skidmore has recently unveiled the name of the new ExoMars rover at an event at the Airbus site in Stevenage.
The new rover, which will seek life on the red planet in 2021, has been named after British scientist Rosalind Franklin, whose ground-breaking research proved vital for the discovery of the structure of DNA.
The rover is being built in the UK and is part of the ExoMars programme. Rosalind will be the first European rover to traverse the surface of Mars, searching its environment for evidence of life on the planet.
The name was chosen by a large panel of experts from a shortlist of names suggested by the public, with approximately 36,000 people responding to the competition launched by the UK Space Agency last year.
Local MP Chris visited the Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, where the rover is currently being built, and was joined by British astronaut Tim Peake on a tour of the facilities at the site, such as the “Mars Yard” testing ground.
Airbus forms an important part of the UK’s aerospace industry and has a key engineering and manufacturing site in South Gloucestershire.
The local MP said: “As Space and Science Minister I was delighted and honoured to reveal the name of the new Mars rover. It is a fitting tribute that the rover has been named after the remarkable Rosalind Franklin, whose research helped unlock the secrets of life on Earth, and now her namesake will do the same on Mars”.
“The rover is an excellent example of the UK’s science and space industry and how creative ideas and innovation can facilitate and create opportunities for business, part of our country’s ambition to be the world’s most innovative economy”.