In news–The European Space Agency’s ExoMars 2022 mission won’t be launched in September as planned after the agency suspended all cooperation with Russia’s space program Roscosmos.
About the ExoMars Mission-
- Led collaboratively by Roscosmos and the ESA, the mission aims to study past life on Mars.
- This relates to its name, with the ‘exo’ referring to the study of exobiology – the possible existence of life beyond Earth (sometimes also referred to as astrobiology).
- ESA and NASA were the original ExoMars collaborators, but NASA dropped out in 2012 due to budgeting problems. Russia took NASA’s place in the project in 2013.
- The ExoMars consists of two missions: First is the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) with an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module, Schiaparelli, which launched in 2016 (crashed).
- From orbit, TGO’s main objectives are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes.
- The September 2022 launch would have been a second installment to deliver a Mars rover to the planet.
- The mission uses a number of Russian-made components — including the rockets.
- The 2016 launch used a Russian-made Proton-M rocket, the same type planned for the launch in September.
- Many components of the mission’s rover are also Russian-made, including radioisotope heaters that are used to keep the rover warm at night on the surface of Mars.