Yes, It’s Complicated!

The next Mars rover is named after a female scientist, but why? But then why not?

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 the inhospitable exterior of Mars 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 Rosalind Franklin Rover at work.

The naming of this instrument 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 issues. 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,” Franklin received only a small mention. Maurice Wilkins, James  Watson and Francis Crick took total credit due for the discovery due to the fact that she had died in 1958.

Rosalind Franklin

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.

Conventional 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 born under these two influences. It is true that some solar and leonine individuals achieve greatness, but just as many SUNS and LEOS wither on the vine due to a lack of opportunity. How many young women don’t get educated or must work within male dominated situations.

Franklin was born into a prominent Jewish family in England. She received an excellent childhood education and earned a research fellowship at the University of Cambridge. In time she was offered a research position by the British Coal Utilization Research Association. She earned her Ph. D. in 1942. She then moved to Paris in 1947 where she became an accomplished researcher and X-ray crystallographer despite the blatant racism and sexism of her field.

The three recipients of the 1962 Noble Prize  in Physiology and Medicine

Maurice Wilkins

James Watson

Francis Crick

Well, history cannot be undone, but it can be reexamined to spot narrow attitudes which at the time were either unrecognized or purposely employed. Perhaps that is one of the purposes of this mission. Franklin’s work produced a major discovery of the 20th century. It would be amazing if this instrument carrying her name, made another great discovery on another planet and provide more DNA to analyze.  That would be pleasantly ironic!

Strong Females

They get the job done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *