Europe goes to NASA for Martian rover launch after breaking up with Russia

Europe goes to NASA for Martian rover launch after breaking up with Russia
Europe goes to NASA for Martian rover launch after breaking up with Russia

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have inked a big agreement to expand NASA’s role in the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover mission, scheduled for launch in 2028. This ESA-led initiative aims to uncover evidence of past life on the Red Planet.

The European Space Agency (ESA) had decided to suspend the joint ExoMars mission with the Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, due to sanctions imposed on Moscow for invading Ukraine.

Read More

Under the newly signed memorandum of understanding, NASA’s Launch Services Program will secure a US commercial launch provider to propel the Rosalind Franklin rover toward Mars.

Additionally, the agency will contribute vital heater units and components of the propulsion system essential for the rover’s landing on the Martian surface.

One of the groundbreaking innovations aboard the Rosalind Franklin rover will be its first-of-its-kind drill, capable of reaching depths of up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) beneath the Martian surface. This will enable the collection of ice samples shielded from harsh surface radiation and extreme temperatures, potentially preserving traces of ancient life.

One of the groundbreaking innovations aboard the Rosalind Franklin rover will be its first-of-its-kind drill. (Photo: ESA)

“The Rosalind Franklin rover’s unique drilling capabilities and onboard samples laboratory have outstanding scientific value for humanity’s search for evidence of past life on Mars,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Nasa supports the Rosalind Franklin mission to continue the strong partnership between the United States and Europe to explore the unknown in our solar system and beyond.”

Through an existing partnership with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the French space agency CNES, NASA is contributing crucial components to the rover’s primary science instrument, the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer. This instrument will search for the fundamental building blocks of life within the collected soil samples.

NASA will also leverage its longstanding collaboration with the Department of Energy to provide lightweight radioisotope heater units for the rover, ensuring it remains operational in the harsh Martian environment.

The Rosalind Franklin rover mission aligns with the overarching Mars Sample Return multi-mission campaign jointly led by NASA and ESA, further strengthening the agencies’ collaborative efforts in exploring the Red Planet.

As the 2028 launch date approaches, the combined expertise and resources of NASA and ESA will be instrumental in unlocking the secrets of Mars’ ancient past and potentially uncovering evidence of extraterrestrial life in our cosmic neighborhood.

Published By:

Sibu Kumar Tripathi

Published On:

May 20, 2024

-

-

PREV Queen Margrethe presents the Prince Henrik Prize to a poet
NEXT In the middle of the election campaign, Donald Trump invites bitcoin miners to his home at Mar-a-Lago