The European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission had an uncertain fate after the test of the Schiaparelli lander ended in failure by crashing into Mars at high speed. However, it seems that the ESA managed to obtain the necessary funding for their upcoming mission.
Not many experts and scientists were expected to receive the green light to proceed with the ExoMars mission after disastrous results of the Schiaparelli module. It seems that the ministers from the European Union’s 22 member countries alongside representatives from Canada and Slovenia had more confidence in the ExoMars project. During their meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland which took place on December 1st, the ministers agreed to contribute the remaining $465 million required to start the ExoMars mission.
European officials have stated in the resulting resolution from the meeting that:
“The Agency is encouraged to strive to reap the benefits expected from the significant investments made through the ExoMars program, including those earmarked for the successful completion of the second ExoMars mission.”
Besides its uncertain future, the ExoMars mission also faced a number of budget shortfalls, which the ministers agreed to fill up while reasserting their faith in agency’s capabilities and the success of the mission. The highest contributors to the mission’s funds were Italy with $182 million, followed by the UK with around $87 million.
Scientists from the ESA are now steadily preparing for the second part of ExoMars mission which involves the landing of a rover as well as a surface platform on Mars. In preparation for the 2020 mission, the Trace Gas Orbiter which was deployed in the first phase is set to act a relay module for the future spacecraft. The attention of the second phase of the mission will be on the Mars rover, which will be able to make subsurface drilling explorations in an attempt to find various traces of life.
The Agency sought funding totaling around $12 billion for a number of activities, from satellite navigation to Earth observation and rocket development. The officials from each partner country decided on allocating $10.9 billion for the ESA’s space activities in hopes of achieving their vision of a United Space in Europe, each minister declaring its support for the development of the ESA. They also extended the Europe’s participation in the ISS until 2014.
Image credit: ESA