Russia and Europe to partner on Mars mission
April 9, 2012
Russia's federal space agency, Roscomos, has plans to join forces with the European Space Agency (ESA) in the journey to Mars. The Moscow Times reports this partnership comes after NASA backed off of the project due to budgetary constraints among other reasons. Now, Roscomos is stepping up to the plate, and will join the ESA in the mission to collect dirt samples and look for signs of life on the fourth planet.
The heads of both organizations, Vladimir Popovkin and Jean-Jacques Dordain, met late last week to discuss terms of the project called ExoMars. They also signed a preliminary agreement to reconvene later in the year, after funding options have been further developed.
"The sides consider this project feasible and promising," said Russian spokeswoman Anna Vedishcheva, according to the Space Exploration Network. "They are to sign the deal by year-end."
ExoMars is set to cost nearly $2 billion and will start out with an orbiting satellite put in place to monitor the levels of methane and other gases in Mars' atmosphere. There will be another vessel, an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), which will attempt to land on the planet. The news source reports if it is successful, the EDM will be the first European spacecraft to touch down on the surface of the red planet.