Anyone can help name the new Mars rover, but there’s one small catch


Space. The final frontier. A vast, formless abyss into which humanity launches its satellites and rovers in a boundless quest for knowledge. The discoveries made in that airless vacuum of mystery could impact the human understanding of the cosmos, and now anyone has the opportunity to name one of the rovers that the European Space Agency will use to explore the surface of Mars.

Except the European Space Agency will choose the rover’s final name with a panel of scientists. And they probably won’t go for Marsy McMarsface. 

Which, honestly, why not? There’s a Boaty McBoatface, voted on by the public in a thoroughly democratic fashion. And who can forget Trainy McTrainface? Or Ferry McFerryface? Or winning racehorse, Horsey McHorseface

OK, maybe the habit of letting the public vote on naming important vessels can be a bit repetitive. It’s amazing what a few trolls, or just plain uninspired-but-weirdly appealing ideas, can do to sway public opinion. 

Sometimes panels picking contest answers end in something great — NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, was named by an 11-year-old girl who won a contest with a 250-word essay. And sometimes, it can just guard against having some dumb, crowdsourced name appear in the history books. 

Whatever happens here, it should be entertaining to see which name the ESA panel ends up choosing. 

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