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UK Space Agency on mission to find catchy name for new Mars rover

Science Minister Sam Gyimah suggested ‘Rover McRoverface’.

Astronaut Tim Peake has launched a contest to find a name for a European Space Agency (ESA) rover set to explore Mars in 2021.

ExoMars – a six-wheeled British-built robot – will travel across the surface of the planet to find out how it has evolved and search for conditions for life.

Peake unveiled the competition at the Farnborough International Air show on Friday.

He said of the upcoming European mission: “Mars is a fascinating destination, a place where humans will one day work alongside robots to gather new knowledge and search for life in our Solar System.

“The ExoMars rover is a vital part of this journey of exploration and we’re asking you to become part of this exciting mission and name the rover that will scout the Martian surface.”

The winner will miss out on the Mars trip but will be treated to a tour of the Stevenage Airbus facility where the rover is being built.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah urged participants to submit “bold” entries and threw a suggestion into the mix – Rover McRoverface.

He said: “Exploring the surface of another planet is what many scientists and researchers dream of and now a British-built rover will travel the surface of Mars to answer some fundamental questions, and the public can be part of this exciting new chapter by naming the rover.

“We want creative and bold entries – I’ll start the ball rolling with Rover McRoverface!”

European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake chats to Prime Minister Theresa May at the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire (Matt Cardy/PA Images)

Members of the public may recall the last time a naming poll was launched for a £200 million survey ship in 2016.

Some 124,000 people voted for the infamous moniker Boaty McBoatface, which was later changed to RRS Sir David Attenborough.

The UK is a key contributor to the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, having invested €287 million (£256.3 million).

A link to enter the ExoMars Rover competition can be found here.

It is open to residents of countries belonging to the ESA.

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