Europe decides to build its own lander for its Martian rover

MADRID, November 23 (EUROPA PRESS) –

ESA states have decided that the agency will build a lander to take the Rosalind Franklin rover to Mars to explore there was life in ancient lakes on the red planet.

This launch-ready rover was left without a lander after the breakdown of collaboration with Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. Roscosmos was contributing the Kazachok lander to the mission.

The ESA member states approved this November 23 in Paris to increase the agency budget 17 percent compared to the last ministerial meeting of 2019.

The industry ministers agreed to dedicate €2.7 billion to ESA’s Earth observation programme. This includes funding from FutureEO, ESA’s Earth sciences, research and development program that harnesses innovation and develops pioneering missions, while fostering innovative ways of using Earth observation data.

They pledged to further develop the continuity of the space component of the Copernicus program according to the newly identified needs; the Aeolus-2 operational mission to measure global wind speed and improve weather predictions; strengthen the monitoring of new essential climate variables and support climate action; the InCubed-2 initiative to support commercialization in the Earth observation industry; develop a digital twin Earth model using cloud computing and high performance or artificial intelligence; continue development of the TRUTHS mission, which will ensure cross-calibration of data from various climate missions supporting critical models; expand the network of third-party Earth observation missions; and preserve essential climate data sets in the long term.

They gave the go-ahead for two ambitious missions: ESA’s upcoming Earth Explorer, Harmony, which promises to provide novel data to answer crucial questions related to ocean, ice and land dynamics, which have a direct bearing on monitoring risks, water and energy resources. , food security and climate change; Y magica gravity mission that will observe the volume of water in oceans, ice sheets and glaciers to better understand sea level change and improve water management.

With €3.2 billion dedicated to the science programme, ESA is implementing the missions of its Cosmic Vision program while preparing the new space science programme, Voyage 2050, which defines ESA’s overall vision for science for 2035 to 2050. Member States confirmed the world-leading role played by the science programme, while acknowledging that difficult economic conditions eroded the potential for any major increases of financing.


In time for a 2023 release are Juice and Euclid, two ambitious missions that embody European leadership and partnership. Juice will explore Jupiter and its icy ocean-hosting moons, studying where life could have formed elsewhere in the Solar System. Euclid will map a large part of the Universe, observing billions of galaxies over ten billion years of cosmic time, to unlock the secrets of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy that together make up 95% of the Universe.

The funding will continue the development of dedicated ESA missions to study extrasolar planets, Plato and Ariel, to be launched in 2026 and 2029, respectively. Launching with Ariel will be Comet Interceptor, a groundbreaking mission involving three spacecraft and will be the first to visit a truly pristine comet, an interstellar object just beginning its journey into the inner Solar System.


Ministers also approved €2.7 billion for the next phase of Terrae Novae, ESA’s new worlds space exploration program focused on three destinations: low-Earth orbit, the Moon and Mars. Terrae Novae leads the human journey from Europa to the Solar System using robots as precursors and explorers.

The ministers decided extend European participation in the International Space Station until 2030, This will allow ESA astronauts to continue working in Earth orbit aboard the European Columbus research laboratory.

The next destination is the Moon and the main new item approved is Europe’s large logistics lander, Argonaut, which will be able to routinely send scientific payloads and cargo to the Moon during the 2030s. Ministers also agreed start work on the next batch of European service modules.

These elements reinforce Europe’s essential role in the Artemis programme, including the flights of three ESA astronauts to the lunar portal, and support exploration of the lunar surface, heralding the possibility of an ESA astronaut stepping on the lunar surface. The ESA will continue working on the construction of its Gateway elements and supporting the development of international lunar services with the Lunar Pathfinder satellite.

Looking towards the exploration of Mars, and with strong support from the scientific community, the decision was made to build a European lander to carry rosalind franklin rover to the surface of Mars to explore whether life existed in the ancient lakes of the red planet.

They also confirmed next steps for ESA cooperation with NASA on Mars Sample Return, a plan to return physical samples from another planet for the first time. Following the recent completion of design work, full development will begin on both the giant Earth return orbiter and the sophisticated sample transfer arm for the sample recovery lander. The first samples from Mars have recently been acquired by the Perseverance rover.