ESA / ROSCOSMOS - ExoMars Mission logo.
March 7, 2012
The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos) will sign the end of 2012 an agreement on Russian participation in the project ExoMars Mars exploration, the U.S. has recently abandoned, Roskosmos said Friday.
This decision was made Friday during a meeting in Moscow between the head of Roskosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, and that of ESA, Jean-Jacques Dordain, according to a statement of the Russian agency.
"One theme of the meeting was the possibility that Russia participates in the project (...) ExoMars," the statement said.
ESA - ExoMars poster
"The parties agreed that the project was feasible and common scientific interest. It was decided (...) to prepare a formal agreement to be signed by end-2012, "he says, without elaborating.
Developed by ESA in cooperation with the U.S. space agency (Nasa), the ExoMars program provides for sending two probes to Mars - the first in 2016 and the second in 2018 - to execute various drilling Martian soil and return samples to Earth in the early 2020s.
But in February, NASA announced it was abandoning the project, the White House had decided in 2013 to reduce the budget for the robotic exploration of Mars.
In November, Russia suffered a serious setback in the sending of a Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt, which failed to break free of gravity. This mission was the first interplanetary expedition of the country since 1986.
Image, Text, Credits: ESA / AFP / Translation: Orbiter.ch.