The ExoMars mission is a Mars exploration plan that the European Space Agency has cooperated with Russia’s Roscosmos for many years. It was finally finalized to launch a lander and a rover in September this year, but with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Space Agency officially announced that it will suspend continued cooperation with Russia, Start looking for other opportunities to launch probes.
In order to keep up with the exploration of alien planets, the European Space Agency also launched the ExoMars Mars mission, which was originally in cooperation with NASA, but the then-President Obama administration cut the Mars budget and withdrew from the program, which led to the ExoMars mission being destroyed for a time in 2012. Cancellation, it was the intervention of Russian aerospace company Roscosmos that helped fill the hole left by NASA’s departure.
Therefore, the European Space Agency and Roscosmos have cooperated with the ExoMars project, which consists of two sub-missions: the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which was first launched in 2016, to study the chemical composition of Mars; and the original plan for 2018. The Rosalind Franklin rover and Mars landing platform, which were launched but were delayed due to parachute problems and were finally scheduled for launch in September 2022, hope to keep up with the various exploration results of NASA and China on the surface of Mars.
However, in late February this year, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine, which triggered a full-scale international censure. Western countries have resorted to economic and technical sanctions. For example, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which has always remained politically neutral in the past, broke the principle and announced that Russian researchers are prohibited from continuing. Participating in the Large Hadron Collider experiment, the European Space Agency also stated earlier that the ExoMars rover would refuse to ride on the Russian proton launch vehicle, preferring to spend hundreds of millions of euros in addition to develop or buy a new Mars lander.
Now the European Space Agency has re-announced that the ExoMars mission has officially suspended cooperation with Russia, and will hold a committee meeting in the next few weeks to discuss how to continue promoting ExoMars without Russia’s participation. The possibility of launching in September this year has been approaching zero.
It is difficult to go to Mars. First, the earth and Mars orbit the sun at different speeds and distances. The longest distance from each other can reach 400 million kilometers, and the shortest distance is only 56 million kilometers. Flying to Mars during the closest distance can minimize rocket fuel and time consumption.
This period is therefore called the “Mars window period”. There will be an optimal time period for a probe to fly to Mars every 26 months, compressing the flight time to Mars to about 7 months.
The ExoMars mission missed this year’s schedule due to the Russian-Ukrainian war, and will have to be delayed until at least 2024 (and resume cooperation with Roscosmos) to launch again. If the partnership with Roscosmos has not been resumed, the European Space Agency has said that the ExoMars mission will continue to wait until 2026 or later, because some of the rover’s own instruments and heating devices are from Russia.
According to Foust, the agency is considering a partnership with NASA to develop a new rover.