The next Mars rover is named after a female scientist, but why?
The Rosalind Franklin rover is an essential part of the ExoMars mission to the red Planet. In July 2021 this motorized vehicle will be set loose on the surface of Mars. It will be equipped with a powerful drill, advanced radar system and an organic molecule analyzer. This mission is critically important since there is a growing consensus that Mar’s inhospitable exterior might be concealing evidence of past life on the red planet. The plan is to drill down to an organic layer and see what is actually there.
The naming of this rover is complicated. It is the result of an outreach campaign by the European Space Agency. While it is congratulatory to the memory of a dedicated scientist, it brings up many uncomfortable facts. Rosalind Franklin made key contributions to knowledge about the molecular structure of DNA. When the 1962 Noble Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for “discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material,” she received only a small mention. Maurice Wilkins, James Watson and Francis Crick took the credit due to the fact that Franklin had died in 1958.
#05 SUN LEO
Rosalind Franklin was born on a Sunday in the zodiac sign of Leo. Both Sunday and Leo are ruled by the radiant Sun. People born with the #05 SUN LEO Dayology Signature possess an incredibly strong belief in themselves and the extraordinary ability to endure. Leo is a fiery sign and it is fixed. Franklin was both inspired and determined.
Many astrologers consider all those ruled by the Sun and Leo to be the shining stars of the heavens. It is presumed that fame, power and wealth are the natural inheritances of those with these two influences. It is true that some solar and leonine people lead and accomplish great things, but just as many waste their lives due to a lack of opportunity or recognition. How many young women, like the one in our feature photo, are defeated by discrimination of some kind?
Franklin was born into a prominent Jewish family in England. She received an excellent childhood education and went to earn a research fellowship at the University of Cambridge. In time she was offered a research position by the British Coal Utilization Research Association. Through this work she earned her Ph.D. in 1942. She then moved to Paris in 1947 where she became an accomplished X-ray crystallographer despite the blatant sexism in her field.
Well, history cannot be undone, but it can be examined to view narrow attitudes which are either not recognized or are purposely employed. Perhaps that is what the naming of this mission is achieving. Franklin’s work produced the discovery of the 20th century. It would be amazing if this instrument, carrying her name, discovered life forms beneath the surface of Mars and they have new DNA sequences than those of which we are familiar. Now that would be ironic!