ExoMars Rover Gets Funding Despite Schiaparelli Mars Lander Crash
The European Space Agency (ESA) has secured the fund they need to launch the ExoMars Lander in 2020.
According to Tech Crunch, ESA received a total of €436 million ($464 million). The report added that the amount is a relatively small part of the more than €10 billion it negotiated to fund the rest of its missions.
"After the many challenging, difficult and rewarding moments of 2016, this is a great relief and a fine result for European space exploration," says Don McCoy, ESA's project manager for the overall mission that includes the rover, in a press release.
The funding was given despite the Schiaparelli Mars probe failure on October. Based on the assessment conducted after the crash, the collapse of its predecessor was caused by a one-second computer glitch.
The rover launch had already been delayed from a planned launch in 2018 because of the cost increase. ESA Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner has previously expressed disappointment over the two-year delay.
The rover will have a 2-meter drill designed to dig and find signs of ancient life underground. Since Mars has a toxic surface, scientists suspect that signs of life could have been preserved below the surface.
While the rover launch will push through, Washington Post noted that because of that, NASA and ESA's Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission was shut down. The mission was supposed to survey near-Earth asteroids. It hoped to deflect a killer asteroid before it crashes into Earth.
"A cool project has been killed because of a lack of vision - even short term - and courage, and this is really sad," says Patrick Michel, a planetary scientist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Nice, who leads the AIM project, in a press release.
Science Mag reported that the mission was supposed to include sending a small spacecraft to a 170-meter lump of rock nicknamed Didymoon.