What should we name the new Moon rover?

Opportunity. Perseverance. Curiosity. Ingenuity. NASA has nailed the art of giving its robotic explorers personality. Now, Australia’s space agency wants your help to catapult its first Moon rover to celebrity status.

It needs a name.

And that name must capture the spirit of Australia’s most ambitious space project to date.

Individuals and schools can enter the competition, with the winner to be announced on December 6.

So, what’s in a name?

“It’s less about the destination, more about the journey: the technical skills that are being developed in robotics across the nation is very exciting,” says the Space Agency’s head, Enrico Palermo.

Aboriginal names are in the hot seat.

South Australia’s experimental earth observation satellite, due to be launched in November, is called Kanyini (it roughly translates to environmental steward). That name was suggested by Findon High School.

But any name that captures the energy and ingenuity behind this Australian rover will be a contender (though no acronyms, please).

The Australian-made, semi-autonomous rover being developed under the Trailblazer program is the Space Agency’s flagship project.

Visiting the surface of the moon in Adelaide.

Its job will be to sift through the regolith (Moondust) to extract oxygen.

It’s the most important first step in establishing a Moon base. Its inhabitants will need oxygen to breathe. But also to fuel their trips back to Earth and, possibly, onwards to Mars.

Two Australian consortiums – AROSE and ELO2 – were chosen earlier this year to design and develop a concept machine under Stage One of the project. The winner will get to produce the fully functional rover that will be sent to the Moon.

It’s a tight schedule.

NASA wants to put it on an Artemis rocket launch as early as 2026.

Entries for the naming competition close October 20. The Space Agency says it will select a shortlist of four top contenders, which will be put to a public vote from November 20.

The Agency has supplied a presentation pack about the mission and competition, which can be downloaded here.  bit.ly/NameAustraliasLunarRover

The submissions themselves must be made via their website: www.space.gov.au.

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