No Money, No Mars: ExoMars in Need of Extra 400 Million Euros
The European Space Agency (ESA) is in need of more money to completely execute the search for life on Mars.
According to Spacedaily, ESA asked member nations Friday to cough up an extra 400 million euros ($425 million) to complete the ExoMars exploration of the Red Planet.
David Parker, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration, told journalists by phone, "ESA needs a bit over 400 million euros for the project, which includes all the technical work needed to take the vehicle up to the launch phase."
The vehicle is the ExoMars rover which is supposed to be launched on Mars aboard Russian rocket in August 2018. Funding concerns have already delayed the rover's launch by two years (2020). If funds would not be completed by this year, the mission will face another setback.
Earlier this May, ESA Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner expressed disappointment over the two-year delay.
Quoting Woerner, Spacenews.com wrote,"I was not only surprised, I was frustrated with this delay, which was for technical reasons on both the European and Russian sides.I was fighting like hell...I'm very upset about it and I don't understand it from a certain point of view."
The rover has an important task in the ExoMars mission. Because the Martian surface is too harsh for any signs of life, the rover is designed to drill up to two meters (almost seven feet) below the Martian surface to search for microbial activity or traces of life on the red planet.
IB Times reported that ministers from EU countries will meet in Lucerne, Switzerland, next week to deliberate upon whether to give ESA's ExoMars mission the funding they needed.
ExoMars consists of two missions: the Trace Gas Orbiter plus an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module, Schiaparelli, launched in 2016, and the second, featuring a rover and surface science platform in 2020.
Apart from budget constraints the mission is also facing another challenge as a one-second computer glitch had resulted to the Schiaparelli Mars probe failure on October.