Astronaut Tim Peake has launched a competition to name the British-made Mars rover set to search for life on the red planet — and ‘Rover McRoverface’ is already in the running.
The rover is scheduled to land on the red planet in August 2021 and will be part of a mission to investigate how Mars evolved and whether it has conditions for life.
People with suggestions can submit them on a designated website set-up by the European Space Agency (ESA).
However, it is not a popularity poll, with an expert panel scheduled to make the final decision. As a result, ‘Rover McRoverface’ is unlikely to be the winning entry.
The name is a light-hearted reference to a poll created by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) that asked members of the public to suggest names for a new research ship.
Despite being the most popular suggestion in the poll, Boaty McBoatface was dropped in favour of naming the ship after broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.
A petition calling for the documentary film-maker to change his name to Sir Boaty McBoatface ‘in the interest of democracy and humour’ received more than 3,800 signatures online.
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Astronaut Tim Peake has launched a competition to name the British-built Mars rover (pictured, artist’s impression) – and ‘Rover McRoverface’ is already in the running
Due to launch in 2020, the ExoMars rover will be the first of its kind to travel across the martian surface and drill-down to determine if evidence of life is buried underground.
The naming competition was announced by ESA astronaut Tim Peake at the Farnborough International Airshow at the weekend.
‘The public can be part of this exciting new chapter by naming the rover,’ said Science Minister Sam Gyimah.
‘We want creative and bold entries – I’ll start the ball rolling with Rover McRoverface,’ he said.
‘So, Rovy McRoveface it is then,’ wrote twitter user Ruminy Fish.
Other suggestions have already included ‘Marsipan’ and ‘Bruno Mars Rover’.
‘Call the new Mars Rover ‘Bowie’ or ‘Ziggy’ because it is looking for ‘Life On Mars’, wrote twitter user @v23474 who is based in Manchester.
Readers can submit their suggestions on the ESA website.
‘So, Rovy McRoveface it is then’, wrote twitter user Ruminy Fish. Other suggestions have already included ‘Marsipan’ and ‘Bruno Mars Rover’
‘Call the new Mars Rover ‘Bowie’ or ‘Ziggy’ because it is looking for ‘Life On Mars’, wrote twitter user @v23474 who is based in Manchester
‘Mars is a fascinating destination, a place where humans will one day work alongside robots to gather new knowledge and search for life in our Solar System,’ said Peake.
‘The ExoMars rover is a vital part of this journey of exploration and we are asking you to become part of this exciting mission and name the rover that will scout the martian surface.’
Airbus Defence and Space is leading the building of the rover which will collect samples and analyse them on the automated laboratory on Mars.
It uses solar panels to generate the required electrical power and is designed to survive the cold Martian nights with the help of batteries and heater units.
The naming competition was announced by ESA astronaut Tim Peake (pictured) at the Farnborough International Airshow at the weekend
WHAT IS THE EXOMARS MISSION?
The main goal of ExoMars is to find out if life has ever existed on Mars.
The spacecraft on which the Schiaparelli travelled to Mars, Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), carries a probe to study trace gases such as methane around the planet.
Scientists believe methane, a chemical that on Earth is strongly tied to life.
The second part of the ExoMars mission, delayed to 2020, will deliver a rover to Mars’ surface.
It will be the first with the ability to both move across the planet’s surface and drill into the ground to collect and analyse samples.
Schiaparelli was designed to test technologies for the rover’s landing in four years – but, it crashed into the red planet in October 2016.
‘Mars is a fascinating destination, a place where humans will one day work alongside robots to gather new knowledge and search for life in our Solar System,’ said Peake (pictured)
Another part of the ExoMars mission, the Trace Gas Orbiter, is already orbiting Mars, looking for atmospheric gases linked to active geological or biological processes.
ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker says, ‘When I was young and dreamed of Mars exploration, this mission would have been science fiction.
‘The ExoMars missions are part of Europe’s strategy to develop technology and explore around Earth, the Moon and Mars – to investigate and bring back knowledge and benefits to people on Earth.
‘This competition is bound to inspire many across Europe and bring the Red Planet closer to home.’
In 2014 more than 4,000 people responded to a call to name Tim Peake’s six-month mission to the International Space Station, with Principia being chosen as the winner.
The name referred to Isaac Newton’s world-changing three-part text on physics, Naturalis Principia Mathematica, describing the principal laws of motion and gravity.
The rover is due to land on Mars (pictured) in March 2021 and will use solar panels to generate electrical power, surviving the cold martian nights with novel batteries and heater units
HOW WILL NASA AND ESA BRING MARTIAN SOIL BACK TO EARTH?
NASA and ESA are teaming up to bring a piece of Mars back to Earth.
While it won’t be easy, scientists say the concept is within reach.
The plan will begin with NASA’s 2020 Mars rover, which will collect Martian soil in up to 31 pen-sized canisters.
ESA’s ExoMars rover, which is set to reach the red planet in 2021, will simultaneously be drilling deep into the surface to look for evidence of life.
ExoMars will drill as far down as two meters.
The second step of the mission will launch a ‘fetch rover,’ which will retrieve the samples from the other rovers.
Then, it would return to its lander and place the samples in a small rocket dubbed a Mars Ascent Vehicle.
This will launch the container holding the samples to Mars orbit, where it will be collected by a spacecraft – which would require its own separate launch from Earth.
After gathering the samples and loading them to an Earth entry vehicle, the craft would return to Earth with the Martian soil.