NASA joins Europe’s Rosalind Franklin Mars rover mission

An artist's illustration of the Rosalind Franklin rover on Mars
An artist’s illustration of the Rosalind Franklin rover on Mars. It is scheduled to launch in 2028 and land on the Red Planet in 2030. (Image credit: ESA/Mlabspace)

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed an agreement on May 16, 2024, to land the Rosalind Franklin rover on Mars on time.

The ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover is the most ambitious ESA-led mission to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet and is scheduled to launch in 2028.

Russian space agency, Roscosmos, was supposed to provide some key elements for this mission. However ESA discontinued its cooperation with Roscosmos due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine two years ago, which slowed down the progress of the mission.

Now with this new agreement this mission will get momentum again and NASA will provide all the key elements that Russia was supposed to provide.

“This pivotal agreement strengthens our collaborative efforts for the ExoMars program and ensures that the Rosalind Franklin rover will set its wheels on Martian soil in 2030,” ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, Daniel Neuenschwander, said in a statement.

NASA will provide launch service, propulsion engine needed for landing on Mars and the lightweight radioisotope heater units (RHUs) for the rover.

So the Rosalind Franklin rover will be solar powered as well as nuclear powered, enabling it to work in any circumstances.

The radioisotope heat and power systems are currently being developed in Europe and will be available for space mission by the end of this decade.

NASA will also provide a key scientific instrument to the Rosalind Franklin rover, called the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer, that will search for the building blocks of life in the soil samples.

The Rosalind Franklin rover will have a unique drilling system that can drill to a depth of up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) below the Martian surface, enabling it to collect samples that have been protected from surface radiation and extreme temperatures.

“NASA supports the Rosalind Franklin mission to continue the strong partnership between the United States and Europe to explore the unknown in our solar system and beyond,” NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Nicola Fox, said in a statement.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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