General, Research, Technology

The European-Russian mission to Mars has been postponed. Is coronavirus to blame?

Joint Russian-European mission to Marspostponed for two years, world space agencies said, citing a new coronavirus and technical problems. The ExoMars unmanned mission, the main task of which was to search for evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life on Mars in the distant past of the planet, was planned to be launched in July 2020, but due to the instability of the global situation, the research apparatus can only reach the surface of the Red Planet in July 2023. How can coronavirus interfere with scientific programs?

ExoMars mission postponed for 2 years

Why is coronavirus to blame for canceling ExoMars?

Coronavirus epidemic and relatedpanic sentiment caused a significant time delay in starting the ExoMars device. Such a difficult decision was made by the leadership of Roscosmos, in particular the famous politician Dmitry Rogozin, who noted that further tests of the spacecraft will continue in August or September 2022.

Read also: NASA showed the alien landscapes of Mars with traces of the Curiosity rover

ExoMars unmanned mission delayednot for the first time. So, the mission, originally developed only by the European Space Agency, was aimed at launching the rover back in 2011. However, shortly after the start of program development, the ExoMars mission was suspended for several years until the program was merged with other projects. After the mission was divided into two separate launches, the project was again frozen indefinitely. One of the reasons that influenced the revision of the ExoMars program at the end of the first decade of the 21st century was the limitation of Italy's financial contribution to the development of the project.

After several unsuccessful launch attempts,Roscosmos and ESA decided to restore the program by signing a cooperation agreement, under which both agencies were to develop the Russian Phobos-Soil project and the European ExoMars, whose main tasks remained to search for possible traces of past Martian life and study the details of the fourth surface from the sun of the planet.

The prototype of the Trans Gus Orbiter device being developed as part of the ExoMars program

Barely resolving a number of technical problems encounteredduring the design of the mission, the leadership of both space agencies faced a new problem - the coronavirus, which has become the main cause of the difficult epidemiological situation in the world, claims. So, according to Jan Werner, ESA Director General, at present, specialists involved in the development of an ambitious project have practically no opportunity to visit their foreign colleagues due to a significant limitation of transport accessibility between European countries. In addition, the fact of incomplete readiness of the spacecraft components affected the transfer of the Russian-European mission. According to experts, additional tests should ensure the safest travel of the spacecraft and the best results of the device on Mars.

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The coronavirus epidemic has become one of the mosttopics discussed on the network and beyond, starting in late 2019. In addition to the transfer of the ExoMars space mission, the infection caused the cancellation of a number of mass events around the world, starting from UN meetings and ending with the quarantine of several Italian provinces.