After spending 120 hours in a clean room temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the British-built Rosalind Frank mars rover is closer to blast off.

Named after Rosalind Franklin, a British chemist, the rover must be cleared of all organic molecules from Earth before it can land on Red Planet next year. 

The rover spent five days in a vacuum chamber at the Thales Alenia Space facility, Rome, Italy. It was subject to temperatures of 95F (35C).

This was hot enough for some of the hidden contaminants to be removed from the rover’s internal parts. 

It was originally scheduled to launch for Mars last summer, but Covid restrictions delayed tests required for it to launch — so it was postponed to September 2022.  

The rover, named after the British chemist, Rosalind Franklin, whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, has to be cleared of any organic molecules from Earth, before it can land on the Red Planet next year

The rover is named after Rosalind Franklin (a British chemist whose work was fundamental to understanding the molecular structure of DNA). Before it can land next year on the Red Planet, it must be free of all organic molecules. 

The British-built Rosalind Franklin mars rover is a step closer to blast off, after the vehicle spent 120 hours inside a 95 degree Fahrenheit clean room 'oven'

After the vehicle spent 120 hours in a clean room heated to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the British-built Rosalind Frank mars rover is closer to blast off.


Rosalind Franklin was the British chemist best known for her work on DNA and was renamed ExoMars’ rover.

It will search for signs that alien life exists on the Red Planet and land using giant parachutes to slow down its descent. 

It is a joint ESA/ Roscosmos project but was built in the UK and operated by Airbus. 

The rover will be launched by Roscosmos on a Proton rocket from Baikonur chromosome on September 20, 2022 — arriving in June 2023. 

It is intended for the Oxia Planum, a plain of clay that exists on Mars. It has a smooth topography and a lot of ‘hydrated minerals’. 

Its drill can dig down to six and a quarter feet into Martian soil.

It will collect samples of buried rock, and then ‘bake it in an oven’ after crushing it.

This will allow the laboratory to search for evidence of past life-signs within soil that dates back billions and years.

This was a time in which Mars is believed to have experienced similar conditions as the young Earth. 

Facts and Figures 

Wheels: Six

Mass: 660lb

Drill6ft 7in

Goal: Search for biomolecules/biosignatures that are from past lives 

TargetOxia Planum 

Duration: Minimum 7 months

Speed: 230ft per day 

Cameras: Two stereo camera pairs (NavCam and LocCam), used to create a 3D map of the terrain for use during autonomous navigation   

Rosalind Franklin, like the NASA Perseverance Rover, will search Mars for signs that ancient life, just like the Perseverance Rover.

The rover will launch on September and arrive on Mars in 2023. This will give engineers more time for testing parachutes, which will aid it in landing on another world’s surface.

Part of the preparation includes a ‘bakeout’ process — effectively cooking the rover in a giant furnace.

This was crucial in the life-searching goal as any contamination from Earth could cause false-positive results. 

The next big test will be of the Mars Organics Molecule Analyser (MOMA), one of the instruments inside the rover’s analytical laboratory ultra-clean zone that will be used to determine if signs of life are present in the Martian soil.

It will perform a measurement with an empty oven to determine the chemical backdrop in the rover’s laboratory. 

MOMA’s tiny ovens on Mars will house crushed soil samples. The gases and vapour will then be analysed using gas chromatography techniques. 

The background footprint against which measurements can be made on Mars will be established by the’sniff of the empty oven’ after the Earth-based bakeout.

The drill is unique and can bore down to six-and-a-half feet (2m) below Martian surface. It also returns samples for analysis. 

A miniaturised spectrometer (Ma_MISS), which analyses the borehole’s inner surface, and a close up imager (CLUPI), which examines drill fines and core samples before they enter the laboratory of the rover, are also included in the drill tool.

Different instruments can be used to analyze the samples within the rover. 

The MicrOmega instrument, in addition to MOMA, will use visible and far-infrared light to characterise the minerals in the samples. A Raman spectrometer, which uses a laser to identify the mineralogical composition, will also use visible and far-infrared light.

The rover will use its high-resolution cameras and ground-penetrating radar to find the best locations to drill and to better understand how the Oxia Planum region is geologically.

The rover sat inside a vacuum chamber for five days at the Thales Alenia Space facility in Rome, Italy, where it experienced 95F (35C) temperatures

The rover was kept in a vacuum chamber at Thales Alenia Space facility in Rome for five days, where it reached temperatures of 95F (35C).

After the bakeout was completed, the thermo-vacuum chamber could be re-pressurized and opened. The rover was then ready for its return journey from Thales Alenia Space, Turin. 

There, the readiness for launch will continue until it ships at the launch site next January. 

ESA has a ‘twin’ of the rover that was baked in an oven — it is used to test the drill and other equipment and see how it responds under Earth-like conditions.

This gives ESA engineers an idea of what to expect from the Rosalind Franklin rover when it arrives on the Red Planet. 

Earlier this year the twin rover on Earth drilled down and extracted samples more than five foot into the ground — deeper than any other Martian rover has attempted.

Part of the preparation includes a 'bakeout' process - effectively cooking the rover in a giant furnace

Part of the preparation involves a ‘bakeout,’ which is basically cooking the rover in an enormous furnace.

Following completion of the bakeout, the thermo-vacuum chamber was re-pressurised and opened, and the rover prepared for its return journey to Thales Alenia Space in Turin

After the bakeout was completed, the thermo-vacuum chamber could be re-pressurized and opened. The rover was then ready for its return journey towards Thales Alenia Space, Turin.


The Oxia Planum, a clay-bearing area of the Red Planet that measures 124 miles wide, is known as

The plain lies between the Mawrth Vallis outflow channel to the north-east and the Ares Vallis outflow channel to the south-west. 

It was selected out of eight potential landing spots for Roscosmos ExoMars missions.

The Rosalind Franklin rover will touch down after a heart stopping parachute decent to the relatively flat topology.

It met the criteria for landing a rover based on its latitude and elevation, its surface slopes, as well as its terrains. 

The area also has a smooth, hydrated surface that could have life signs.

As part of a series test at the Mars Terrain Simulator at ALTEC premises in Turin (Italy), the first samples were collected. The Ground Test Model, also known as the replica, is fully representative for the rover that will land on Mars.

Rosalind Franklin’s rover is designed for deep drilling to access well-preserved material from four billion year ago, when Mars’ conditions were more like those of infant Earth.

The Oxia Planum on Mars is where the rover will be landing. It is a clay-breeding plain with relatively smooth topography, and an abundance of “hydrated minerals”. 

Rosalind Franklin’s twin was drilling into a well containing a variety of soil layers and rocks. The first sample was taken of a block made of medium-hardened cemented clay, which was intended to replicate Martian soil.

To simulate the collection of a non-vertical sample, drilling was done on a tilted platform. The drill collected the sample in the form of a pellet measuring about a third inch in diameter. 

Once the sample has been captured, the drill returns it to the surface.

After the drill has been completely disengaged, the rock is placed in a drawer at front of the rover. This then withdraws the sample and deposits it into a crushing station.  

The rover is equipped with a unique drill that will bore down to six and a half feet (2m) below the martian surface and return samples for analysis

The drill is unique and can bore down to six-and-a-half feet (2m) below martian surface. It will also return samples for analysis.

The ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars mission, with the Rosalind Franklin rover and Kazachok surface platform contained in a descent module, requires two main parachutes

Two main parachutes are required to carry the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars mission with the Rosalind Franklin surface platform and Kazachok rover contained in a descend module.

Parachutes that will allow the rover to land safely on Mars were tested earlier in the year. 

These were among many tests that were delayed because of the coronavirus epidemic, pushing the rocket launch back by more than a full year.

The delay in the launch allowed the team to spend more of their time on tests and even perform a wider range than would have been possible otherwise. 

The ExoMars mission’s main component is the Rosalind Franklin rover, which is managed by Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, and the European Space Agency.  


ExoMars’ main objective is to determine if there has been life on Mars. It will do this by using a series instruments on Mars and in orbit.

This includes the Trace Gas ORbiter (TGO), an orbiting spacecraft that carries a probe to examine trace gases around the planet.

Scientists believe methane could be used to identify areas where life once existed.

The ExoMars second part, which was delayed to 2022/2023 by coronavirus, will deliver the rover to Mars’ surface.

The rover is being constructed in Stevenage, UK. It is named after Rosalind Franklin, a British scientist. 

It will be one of the first to be capable of moving across the planet’s surface as well as drilling into the ground to collect and analyze samples. 

The rover will include a technology called the Mars Organic Molecule Analyser (MOMA) that will allow it to analyse samples and send data back to Earth.