The European Space Agency and Russia’s Roscosmos stated Thursday they’re suspending a deliberate joint mission to Mars till 2022, partially because of journey restrictions ensuing from the brand new coronavirus outbreak.
The ExoMars mission was because of launch this 12 months however considerations about doable technical issues had already prompted each companies to debate the delay.
“We need to make ourselves 100 p.c positive of a profitable mission,” European Space Agency Director General Jan Woerner stated in a assertion. ”We can’t enable ourselves any margin of error. More verification actions will guarantee a secure journey and the most effective scientific outcomes on Mars.”
Dmitry Rogozin, the top of Roscosmos, stated the delay was primarily because of technical issues, compounded by the coronavirus outbreak, “which left our consultants virtually no chance to proceed with travels to companion industries.”
The mission’s purpose is to place a rover on the crimson planet to assist decide whether or not there has ever been life on Mars. Scientists hope the rover, full of high-tech devices and named after British chemist Rosalind Franklin, will be capable of dig for organic signatures of life beneath the martian floor and likewise present additional insights into the planet’s historical past of water.
The postponement is one other setback for the ExoMars program after the 2016 launch of an orbiter and a take a look at lander. The Trace Gas Orbiter was efficiently deployed, however the Schiaparelli lander malfunctioned and crashed on the floor of Mars, highlighting the issue of placing a probe on the planet.
So far, the United States is the one nation to efficiently land a functioning probe on Mars. NASA’s Curiosity and InSight landers are nonetheless in operation on the planet.
Three different Mars missions are deliberate for this summer time. The United States is launching a lander, China has a lander-orbiter combo, and the United Arab Emirates is sending an orbiter.
Spacecraft can solely be launched to Mars each two years, to make the most of the very best lineup between Earth and its neighbouring planet.
NASA’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, stated ESA and Roscosmos made a “robust choice” in delaying the ExoMars mission.
“Launching & safely touchdown a spacecraft on Mars are extraordinarily demanding and require many applied sciences & programs to operate completely,” he wrote on Twitter.