European Space Agency is terminating cooperation with Russia on the mission to launch Europe's first planetary rover, designed to search for signs of life on Mars, the agency’s chief said on Tuesday, APA reports citing CNN.
The ExoMars Rover, a collaboration between the ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, had been on track to leave for Mars in September this year. But the ESA said in February that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had made that "very unlikely."
Then in March, the agency suspended cooperation with Roscosmos over their joint mission on Mars in the wake of the Ukraine invasion and sanctions imposed on Russia.
“Today @ESA Council addressed the ExoMars Rover and Surface Platform mission, acknowledging that the circumstances which led to the suspension of the cooperation with Roscosmos – the war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions – continue to prevail,” ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the agency’s board instructed him to officially terminate cooperation with Russia on the program, Aschbacher said.
“New insights on the way forward with other partners will come at a media briefing on 20 July, details to come,” he added.
The rover was initially scheduled to launch in July 2020 but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The mission is intended to search for life on Mars and investigate the history of water on the red planet. The rover has the capability to drill beneath the surface of Mars to a depth of 6.5 feet (about 2 meters), where the scientists hope they may find signs of life.