Picture: The original Photo 51 (right) alongside a print courtesy of Archives Services and Library & Collections at King's.
Chris Skidmore, UK Science Minister said: “It is a tremendously fitting tribute that the rover has been named after Rosalind Franklin as she helped us understand life on earth and now her namesake will do the same on Mars.
“Just as Rosalind Franklin overcame many obstacles during her career, I hope ‘Rosalind the rover’ will successfully persevere in this exciting adventure, inspiring generations of female scientists and engineers to come.”
Over a third of the science instruments used in the ExoMars mission are led by women.
In November experts meeting at the National Space Centre in Leicester chose Oxia Planum near the Martian equator as the landing site for Rosalind due to its geology and the likelihood of finding signs of life. As the first European rover to traverse the surface of Mars, Rosalind Franklin will uniquely drill down to two metres into the Martian surface allowing the rover’s scientific instruments to sample and analyse the soil, determine its mineral content and composition, and search for evidence of whether past environments could once have harboured life.
Tim Peake said: “This rover will scout the Martian surface equipped with next-generation instruments – a fully-fledged automated laboratory on Mars. With it, we are building on our European heritage in robotic exploration, and at the same time devising new technologies.”
Brian Sutton, Professor of Molecular Biophysics at King's said: "It is most appropriate that the search for evidence of life on Mars should be associated in this way with the name of Rosalind Franklin, who made such a key contribution to discovering the secret of life on Earth. I am delighted to see her work recognised in this way."
Building on the rich history of biophysics at King’s, the university is currently investing in biophysics research and education. In addition to the MRes in Molecular Biophysics, two new courses, BSc and MSci Physics with Biophysics, launch in September 2019.