ESA’s ExoMars Mission Is Now $430 Million Overbudget, What Is Next In Looking For Life On Mars?

First Posted: Nov 28, 2016 02:25 AM EST

Barely a month after its demonstration probe crashed into Mars due to a computer glitch, the European Space Agency asked member nations an extra $430 million to complete the already expensive ExoMars exploration on the Red Planet.

ESA needs the money to finish building the ExoMars rover and meet its deadline to launch aboard a Russian rocket in August 2020. The rover, which will take about nine months to reach Mars, will be designed to search for microbial activity and evidence of life, both in the past and at present.

The two-part mission had successfully placed a spacecraft into orbit in October, but its lander that was designed to pave the way for a mobile-lab rover in 2020 smashed into the Red Planet's surface.

However, to complete the mission's rover, the space agency needs more money to carry out all technical work needed to take the spacecraft up to the launch phase.

Ministers from the 23 countries who are part of ESA's space program will decide if they could cover the cost that is needed to complete the mission when they meet on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 in Lucerne, Switzerland, reports.

What Is The ExoMars Mission?

"ExoMars is extremely important for European science and exploration," Roberto Battiston, President of Italy's ASI space agency, said in a press release by the European Space Agency.

"Together with all the participating states in the program, we will work towards the successful completion of the second ExoMars mission," he added.

As well known to the world, the ExoMars mission is a program by ESA to establish if life ever existed on Mars. Its mission is to investigate the Martian environment, especially if it was able to support life in the past. However, its goal is to examine samples from underground since the atmosphere of Mars is too harsh to support life.

According to ESA, the scientific investigations to be carried out after the rover lands on Mars is to search for signs of past and present life on the Red Planet, investigate how water and geochemical environment varies and search for Martian atmospheric trace gases and their sources.

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