SYDNEY, Nov 20 — Australians began voting today on a name for the country’s first home-made Moon rover, with a shortlist including “Mateship”, “Roo-ver” and “Kakirra”— an Indigenous word for the Earth’s satellite.

Australia’s space industry will develop the semi-autonomous rover to collect lunar soil under an agreement signed two years ago with Nasa, which plans to fly it to the Moon’s surface as soon as 2026.

Nasa will then attempt to extract oxygen from the soil sample, marking “a key step towards a sustainable human presence on the Moon”, the Australian Space Agency said in a statement.

Two Australian consortiums, AROSE and ELO2, are working on rover concepts, one of which will be selected to design and develop the final rover.

The agency said it had asked thousands of people and schools to take part in a contest to come up with the best name for the future Moon vehicle, whittling them down to a shortlist of four names.

They were “Mateship”, “Roo-ver”, “Kakirra” and “Coolamon”— an Aboriginal wooden dish with curved sides used for various tasks including carrying food and cradling babies.

Online voting opened to the public Monday, with the winning name to be announced December 6. — AFP