Mars Rover named after Jewish scientist Rosalind Franklin nears completion

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Mars Rover named after Jewish scientist Rosalind Franklin nears completion

Craft for joint European-Russian mission is in its final stages of construction, ahead of voyage to look for signs of life on the red planet

Mars rover unveiled in honour of Rosalind Franklin
Mars rover unveiled in honour of Rosalind Franklin

A Mars rover being built by British engineers and named after a famous Jewish scientist is nearing completion, ahead of a projected 2021 Mars landing.

The ‘Rosalind Franklin Mars Rover,’ a joint European-Russian mission, is in its final stages of construction, with just the solar panels, mast and camera system left to fit.

If it lands successfully, the rover will look for signs of life on the Red Planet, such as tiny microbes, or evidence of past life. As part of this, it will drill into Mars’s surface.

“Rosalind Franklin is looking like the real rover now,” said Chris Draper, flight model operations manager at Airbus UK. “We started assembly in December and we thought we might deliver the rover in late July… We’ve performed well.”

Born in Notting Hill to Jewish parents in 1920, Franklin was a British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer who made vital discoveries in the molecular properties of DNA, RNA, viruses such as polio, as well as tobacco, coal and graphite.

She is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA while at King’s College London. This led to the discovery of the DNA double helix for which James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Watkins shared the Nobel Prize in 1962, four years after she had died of ovarian cancer, aged 37.

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