Saturday, 16 February, 2019

European Mars rover named after DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin

Exomars Rover Name European Mars rover named after DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin
Frank Williams | 09 February, 2019, 19:56

She was the subject of a 2013 Google Doodle that highlighted her contributions to our understanding of the molecular makeup of DNA and RNA. In 1953, Franklin used the then-new field of x-ray crystallography to image crystals of DNA.

The UK Space Agency announced the official name of the ExoMars rover on Thursday after running a naming contest in 2018.

With this new ESA rover, Rosalind Franklin will finally get to perform scientific research again, at least in spirit.

The British built rover that will roam over the surface of Mars in 2021 has been named after the female scientist who co-discovered the structure of DNA. Franklin codiscovered DNA's double-helix structure, and her namesake rover will search Mars for signs of life.

The ExoMars mission will launch in summer 2020 from the Roscosmos site in Kazakhstan, where current astronaut missions launch to the International Space Station.

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An autobiography, "The Dean: The Best Seat in the House", was written with David Bender and published in December. In my life and career I have often heard it said that so-and-so has real power - as in, "the powerful Wile E.

"This name reminds us that it is in the human genes to explore".

The UK-built ExoMars robot that will set out to find evidence of life on Mars has been named after British scientist Rosalind Franklin.

Alice Bunn, global director at the UK Space Agency, said: "Rosalind Franklin is one of science's most influential women, and her part in the discovery of the structure of DNA was truly ground-breaking". It will likely land in Oxia Planum, a lowland region just north of Mars's equator. The ambition is for the United Kingdom be the world's most innovative economy - and the development of the ExoMars rover for the United Kingdom is a part of this ambition.

Franklin was a pioneering British chemist and X-ray crystallographer who contributed to unravelling the double helix structure of our DNA. Watson and Crick used their own data and Franklin's photograph to create a model for the building blocks of life. She went to Newnham College, Cambridge in 1938 and passed her finals in 1941, but was only awarded a degree titular as women were not entitled to degrees at that time. Franklin was unable to receive the prize as Nobel Prizes can not be awarded posthumously, but she received no mention in the acceptance speeches. She died in 1958 and her work was more widely recognized after her death. This left many to believe she was not given the recognition she deserved, says BBC. Rosalind the rover will be tasked with uncovering evidence to reveal whether the now-barren world once harbored life, or indeed if it is still capable of doing so deep beneath the surface.

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