Europe has the red planet on its sights in two years, as the European Space Agency is about to launch their own Mars rover in 2020. The agency is now casting for naming suggestions for their six-wheeled robot explorer, and submission of entries is now open to the public on Airbus' website.
The rover, tentatively called ExoMars, is now being built by Airbus in England for a launch date set for 2020, according to Fortune. After a transit time of roughly one year, the craft is expected to land on Mars by 2021 in which time the rover will begin its mission of exploring the planet's surface.
One of its primary mission is to look beneath the dust and rocks of the red planet for signs of life. To do so, the robot will come equipped with a drill capable of drawing out samples of up to 2 meters underground.
Astronaut Tim Peake is now encouraging the public to help the European Space Agency come up with inspiring names for the robot explorer. To that end, he is now pointing everyone to a special website dedicated to naming the rover, as hosted by Airbus.
Unlike a certain submarine that got the name "Boaty McBoatface" after a free-for-all poll, the ESA wants every suggestion to keep a set of guidelines in mind. Names made up of a single word or words, or even an acronym is allowed, as long as it has not been used in any space mission in the past, current or planned, according to BBC.
Every idea, furthermore, needs to have a brief explanation attached, of no more than 150 words. Names of persons are also accepted provided that they are no longer living, and have died no later than Oct. 10, 1993. That date is by design since the agency will be closed to entries by Oct. 10, 2018 — meaning any person the craft could be named for would have been dead for at least 25 years.