ESA Member States give green light to ExoMars programme
17 December 2009The ESA Council has just given the go-ahead to proceed with the implementation of the ExoMars programme. This decision paves the way for two Mars exploration missions in cooperation with NASA in 2016 and 2018.
ESA-NASA ExoMars programme 2016-2018
The ExoMars programme aims to investigate the martian environment, particularly astrobiological issues, and to develop and demonstrate new technologies for planetary exploration with the long-term view of a future Mars sample return mission in the 2020s.
Two missions are foreseen within the ExoMars programme: one consisting of an Orbiter plus an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator (to be launched in 2016) and the other consisting of two rovers (to be launched in 2018).
ESA's Council approved the subscription of 850 million euro to the ExoMars programme at a meeting held 16 and 17 December at ESA Headquarters in Paris, France.
Following the decision, David Southwood, Director of Science and Robotic Exploration said: "This marks an important moment for Europe in its steps towards space exploration on the world scale. We have been to the planets before, sure. But now we have a plan for exploration ahead to build our technical capability and explore Mars in a long-term partnership."
Thirteen of ESA's 18 Member States are participating in the ExoMars programme: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, plus Canada.