Science

Europe Funds Mission To Mars And Said To Succeed In 2021

By Monica U Santos , Dec 09, 2016 04:04 AM EST

A group of people from Europe has been trying to land on Mars since the year 2003. But unfortunately, none of the attempts have gone exactly according to their plan. A couple of months ago, the ExoMars Schiaparelli landing demonstrator crashed onto the planet’s surface, losing contact with its mothership. However, the mission was partially successful, providing the information that will enable Europe and Russia to land its ExoMars rover on the Red Planet in 2021.

Europe Funds Mission To Mars And Said To Succeed In 2021

As reported by Science Focus, European research ministers have finally agreed to give the mission the outstanding €400m (approximately equal to $430,450,000) it needs to go ahead. A lot is at stake as the rover is poised to uniquely drill under the harsh Martian surface to search for signs of the past, or even present, life. With the best of human endeavor, we must learn, try again and not give up.

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced over the weekend it will spend the cash on its planned ExoMars rover, which it hopes will travel across the Martian surface to search for signs of life. ESA is Europe's gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

The ExoMars rover, to be built at Airbus’s UK space plant in Stevenage, is designed to dig beneath the Martian surface to look for signs of microbial life. According to Financial Times, Although the council only agreed on the funding of activities to 2021, the ministers made a commitment to maintain ESA's involvement in the International Space Station till 2024— in line with its US, Russian, Japanese and Canadian partners.

“ExoMars is now fully financed,” Jan Woerner, ESA director-general, told a press conference on Friday. “We are confident that the money and the schedule are secure.”

Why Is It So Hard To Land On Mars?

The reason it is so hard to land on Mars is that the atmospheric pressure is low, less than 1% of Earth’s surface pressure. This means that any probe will descend very rapidly to the surface, and must be slowed. What’s more, the landing has to be done autonomously as the light-travel time from Earth is three to 22 minutes. This delay transmission means we can’t steer the rapid process from Earth.

Europe's first attempt to land on Mars was with Beagle 2 on Christmas day 2003. Recently, the Beagle 2 lander was imaged by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on the surface – tantalizingly close to success, with only one of the four solar panels left undeployed. In fact, No country besides the U.S. has successfully operated a probe on Mars for longer than 14.5 seconds.

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