Delayed ExoMars mission gets 77-mln-euro boost

June 16, 2016
A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the ExoMars 2016 spacecraft blasts off from the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome on March 14, 2016

The second part of a delayed joint European-Russian mission to probe Mars for traces of life has received a crucial 77 million euros ($86 million) cash injection, the European Space Agency said Thursday.

In the first phase, the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart launched two probes bound for the Red Planet in mid-March but the next stage has been delayed by two years to 2020.

The cash boost has come from the project's main European partners—Italy, the UK, France and Germany—and will be used to offset the additional costs caused by the delay announced in May.

David Parker, the ESA's director of , told AFP: "We asked... the member states 'do you want to continue with this mission?'"

The next stage of the mission will see the launch of a European rover capable of drilling up to two metres (about seven feet) into the Martian surface in search of organic matter.

"It was an unanimous decision of the whole council to continue with this program," he said of the meeting held in Paris Wednesday.

"It is an important confirmation of the support of the member states to the project. I am positive."

The double ExoMars will complement the work of NASA's Curiosity rover, which has been criss-crossing Mars' surface for more than three years.

Space has been one of the few areas of cooperation between Moscow and the West that has not been damaged or derailed by ongoing geopolitical tension in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

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Max5000
not rated yet Jun 17, 2016
"..complement the work of NASA's Curiosity rover".

Not at all.

Curiosity does not have a single life detecting instrument on board. Zero NASA missions have since the Viking missions. And the Vikings unfortunately were not that precise or trustworthy compared to instruments now.

Curiosity does also not have a drill to go deeper into the surface. A next leap forward because scientists have proven in enough studies now that life is destroyed at the top 1 meter surface and can only remain alive/be replenished by possible life deeper down. Which Exomars could find with it`s 2 meter drill. Including life long extinct. Which would also have its cells destroyed. So for life long dead or still existing you need to go deeper.

That does not negate the fact that this is the first European rover. And with Russia providing a large part of the rocket landing system it might not work. Unfortunately Russia has a very bad track record to mars/ deep space.

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