Mar 12, 2020 - Science

Europe, Russia delay Mars mission to 2022

Artist's illustration of the rover on Mars. Photo: ESA/ATG medialab

The European Space Agency and Roscosmos announced on Thursday that their joint ExoMars mission expected to launch this year is now delayed to 2022.

The big picture: The decision to postpone the mission was made due to technical issues around the spacecraft's development and possible travel restrictions resulting from the unfolding novel coronavirus pandemic.

Details: The ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover is now slated to take flight sometime between August and October of 2022.

  • Parachutes designed to bring the rover safely to the planet's surface still need to go through testing ahead of launch, and other components of the mission also need to go through testing.

What they're saying: "We want to make ourselves 100% sure of a successful mission. We cannot allow ourselves any margin of error. More verification activities will ensure a safe trip and the best scientific results on Mars,” ESA director general Jan Wörner said in a statement.

  • Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin said the decision to delay was primarily made due to the need to test the spacecraft's systems, but he added that the COVID-19 situation in Europe has "left our experts practically no possibility to proceed with travels to partner industries."

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European Space Agency scales back missions as pandemic intensifies

Photo: NASA

The European Space Agency is stopping science operations on four deep space missions as the coronavirus pandemic continues to intensify.

Why it matters: The shutdown comes as nations have placed tight restrictions on movement while cases of COVID-19 rise. ESA also announced that someone working at the European Space Operations Centre in Germany has tested positive for the virus.

Go deeperArrowMar 24, 2020 - Science

NASA's next Mars rover is named Perseverance

Artist's illustration of the Perseverance rover on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's next Mars rover, expected to launch to the Red Planet in July, is officially named Perseverance.

The big picture: Once on Mars, the mission is designed to search out possible signs of past life on the planet and cache samples for a future mission to return back to Earth one day.

Go deeperArrowMar 5, 2020 - Science

The coronavirus pandemic is setting back the space industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

From canceled conferences to a delayed Mars mission, the space industry is starting to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as it spreads across the globe.

Why it matters: Hundreds of thousands of people are already experiencing the devastating effects of the pandemic.

Go deeperArrowMar 17, 2020 - Science