Name the European ExoMars Rover!

ExoMars rover Mars

The ESA ExoMars rover being built in Stevenage is due to land on Mars in 2021 but, what should it be called? can you help in this difficult assignment? The answer is, of course, you can!

The UK Space Agency has launched a competition to name the ExoMars rover that will take off for the Red Planet in less than two years’ time. If you want to help them decide how to call it, do not hesitate to submit your ideas here!

The winner of the competition will win a tour of the world famous Mars Test Facility in Stevenage, the Earth-based home of the rover. The site’s ‘Mars Yard’ as it is affectionately known in Stevenage hosts a specially built replica of the planet’s surface about the size of a basketball field, where the rover prototypes are put through their paces.  School students can view the rovers during their testing, from the adjoining Airbus Discovery Space STEM centre, whose mission is to inspire youngsters to pursue a career in space.  The competition winner will also get to see inside another of the jewels of the site, the ExoMars clean room where the mission’s ExoMars Rover will be constructed.

Rover Mars test yard Stevenage Airbus
ExoMars rover at the Mars test yard in Stevenage. / Airbus

Get thinking and don’t worry about how bizarre or mad sounds your proposal, following are some examples already submitted each of them wilder than the previous one:

  • Rover McMarsface
  • Roverto
  • MarsEUpilami
  • Rovinson Cruseo (Maybe he finds his Friday out there!)
  • Bahram (The Persian language name for the planet Mars)
  • Upuaut (This word means “The one that opens the way” and “Lord of the sacred world”)
  • Beatrice (Bridget, Bradley and Bruno exist already, why don’t another girl name? It also means ‘bringer of Joy’)
  • MARSHMALLOW (MARS Hidden Monsters & Alien Life Locator Or Whatever)
  • MARSHAL (Mars Advanced Rover for Super-Science and Hunt of Alien Life)

A few short rules you must follow:

  • The name can be a single word, a short combination of words, or an acronym
  • It must not have been used for a past, current or proposed space mission
  • If it honours a person, that person must have died on or before 10 October 1993
  • UK Space Agency expert panel will choose the best suggestion

Please review the full terms and conditions here.

The competition is open to all residents of ESA member states. There have already been over 30,000 submissions so make sure yours is one of them before the entries close at 23:59 GMT on 10 October 2018.

ESA ExoMars Rover Cambridge Science Festival
ExoMars Rover at Cambridge Science Festival. / Wikipedia

More about the ExoMars Rover

ExoMars is the European Space Agency’s programme to explore the Martian environment. The ExoMars Rover mission will pioneer new ways to explore the surface of Mars and carry out advanced science, looking for evidence of past or present life. The success of the scientific experiments depends on the six-wheeled rover vehicle which is designed and built by Airbus in Stevenage.

The ExoMars Rover will find its way over the terrain using autonomous navigation to avoid obstructions rather than relying on direct control signals from Earth, allowing more time for science rather than on navigation. The rover will be equipped with a drill able to take samples up to two metres below the surface where they are protected from the harsh solar radiation. The samples will be analysed on-board the rover and the results will be sent to Earth.

A series of prototype rovers has been used since 2007 to thoroughly evaluate the design of the locomotion and navigation systems and to perfect improvements. A successful conclusion to this mission will pave the way for a future ‘Mars sample return mission’ to bring back samples from the planet.

Europe’s first Mars rover will have an unmatched capability to autonomously navigate up to 70 metres a day with no outside guidance from ground control.