ESA Gets Funding For ExoMars Mission Despite Schiaparelli Lander’s Crash

Posted: Dec 4 2016, 3:58am CST | by , Updated: Dec 4 2016, 9:00am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

ESA Gets Funding for ExoMars Mission Despite Schiaparelli Lander’s Crash
Credit: ESA
 

European members of ESA has approved $464 million that are required to send a rover on Mars in 2020.

European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission will carry on despite Schiaparelli lander’s crash last month.

On Thursday, European nations approved 436 million euros ($464 million) to complete the second phase of the ExoMars mission. The mission aims to put a robotic rover on Mars surface by 2021. The rover will drill into Martian soil and look for the traces of microbial life on the planet.

As a part of the first phase of ExoMars mission, ESA has already sent an orbiter and a lander to the Red Planet. The Trace Gas Orbiter Orbiter or TGO successfully touched down Mars October this year but its companion Schiaparelli lander malfunctioned and crashed on Martian surface, raising concerns about the future of the mission. Still, 22 member nations of ESA agreed to set aside extra funding that is needed to launch ExoMars 2020 mission.

“After the many challenging, difficult and rewarding moments of 2016 this is a great relief and a fine result for European space exploration.” Don McCoy, ESA’s project manager for the overall mission including rover ExoMars said in a statement.

In total, ESA members have approved10.3 billion euros ($10.95 billion) lifeline at a two-day meeting in Switzerland, which will allow the agency to continue its participation in International Space Station programs through at least 2024. ESA had originally requested for $11 billion.

“Completion of ExoMars was probably the most challenging of our discussions because of the size of the additional resources that have been put on the table. But this was justified by the detailed analysis presented by ESA.” Prof Roberto Battiston, the president of the Italian space agency (ASI) told BBC.

If successful, ExoMars will become the first mission from Europe to operate a rover on Martian surface. With the funding, ESA will continue its operations aboard space station, which is something other partners like U.S., Japan and Canada are already doing. ESA’s decision has been appreciated by NASA’s administrator Charles Bolden.

“I’m excited all the International Space Station partners have now joined us in committing to operation of this invaluable resource through at least 2024,” said Bolden.

“The European Space Agency contributions to station are essential, and we look forward to continuing to work with ESA, the Canadian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Roscosmos for extended operations, and to collaborating with other nations to push the boundaries of human exploration, and extend our reach farther into the solar system as part of the ongoing Journey to Mars.”

 

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