The European Space Agency Wants You To Choose The Name Of Its New Mars Rover

The ExoMars rover will try to establish whether life ever existed on Mars and drill for microbial evidence at a site around 3.9 billions years old. ESA

Because apparently “Boaty McBoatface” wasn’t enough, the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency (ESA) are asking for your help in naming the new ExoMars rover.

Astronaut Tim Peake is leading the charge, which is open to anyone from an ESA member state. However, it appears the space agencies may have learned from the 2016 boat-naming debacle. This time around, officials have nixed the online poll and are instead putting the best contenders before an expert panel who will make the final decision.

Either way, Twitter has already blasted off with some pretty hilarious suggestions.

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Rovey McRovebot, naturally made the list.

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As did Spacey McSpaceface.

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And an entire onslaught of similar five-syllable iterations. 

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The rover is a six-wheeled robot set to land on Mars in the spring of 2021, where it will search for evidence of past – or even present – microbial life, reports The Associated Press. The newly named rover will have a drill that enables it to dig 2 meters (6.6 feet) into the ground to see if any living organisms are hiding below the surface of the planet. Samples collected by the robot will then be analyzed with “next generation instruments – a fully-fledged automated laboratory on Mars." 

During the first-of-its-kind mission, the rover will be equipped with solar panels to generate electrical power and “novel” batteries and heater units to last the cold Martian nights.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

According to ESA, another part of the mission, the Trace Gas Orbiter, is already orbiting Mars on the hunt for atmospheric gases connected to active biological or geological processes. Peake told BBC News he thinks the rover’s mission is a great place to find inspiration in pitching a name. 

"I often get asked, 'is there life out there beyond Earth?'. It's a very fundamental question, and it's one that this rover is going to try to answer," he said. 

The winner won’t get a trip to the Red Planet, but they will win the opportunity to take three guests on a tour of the Airbus facility just outside of London. You have until October 10 to submit your suggestion on the Airbus website found here, so long as you’re a resident of one of the 23 ESA countries and can abide by a few basic rules

 

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