Harrington: Rover name dogged by war

Friday, 8th April

Mars ROVER orange tint

Artist’s impression of the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover. ESA Mlabspace CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

ROSALIND Franklin’s DNA discoveries helped us explain the building blocks of life.

And so it seemed fitting when a rover tasked with testing ancient geology for evidence of life billions of years ago on the planet Mars was named after her back in 2018.

The UK-designed space buggy was due to land near the Martian equator later this year, before ploughing its two-metre digger down beneath the asteroid-battered surface.

But the launch, already delayed due to Covid, has now been parked again because the European Space Agency can no longer reconcile its joint mission with the Russian State Space Corporation, Roscosmos.

Rosalind’s younger sister Jenifer Glynn told me: “We were asked whether they might use Rosalind’s name, and there was a great ‘unveiling of the name’ ceremony organised by the European Space Agency, to which we were invited. Goodness knows what will happen now.”

Related Articles