European/Russian Rover Coordination Now Dead

Image (Credit): Drawing of the ESA’s ExoMars martian rover called the Rosalind Franklin. (ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has decided to terminate cooperation with Russia on the ExoMars rover mission. The joint mission, planned for September 2022, was suspended earlier this year after Russia invaded Ukraine. The ESA has now cut all links on the project and hopes to work with NASA on some aspects of the mission.

The rover, named the Rosalind Franklin, would be the first European rover to visit Mars. It is designed to explore the surface of Mars as well as collect and analyse samples. The plan is to land the rover at a site with high potential for finding well-preserved organic material, particularly from the very early history of the planet.

Both Covid and the war in Ukraine have delayed the rover mission, but the ESA will see it through, alone if necessary, but hopefully with others. Maybe Russia can be a partner again in the future, but it will need new leadership that knows how to play well with others.