Coronavirus Now Affecting Space Missions; ESA ExoMars, Roscosmos Halted


Coronavirus has impacted life worldwide including all activities like conferences, gatherings, and now - a space mission to Mars. The European Space Agency and Roscosmos of Russia are postponing a planned joint mission to Mars, dubbed as the ExoMars mission, to 2022. The reason being travel restrictions implied after novel coronavirus outbreak.

ExoMars Mission Put Off Until 2022 Due To Coronavirus

ESA Postpones ExoMars Mission

The ExoMars mission was set to liftoff this year. However, with the widespread coronavirus alert, both ESA and Roscosmos began discussing the technical problems and delaying the launch. "We want to make ourselves 100 percent sure of a successful mission," the European Space Agency Director General Jan Woerner said in a statement.

The statement was further supported by Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos. They said that the delay was due to a few technical problems, which was doubled by the coronavirus outbreak. It has "left our experts practically no possibility to proceed with travels to partner industries," they said.

ExoMars Mission Agenda

The joint mission to Mars involved sending a rover to the planet in a bid to determine if there was life on Mars. The rover is equipped with high-tech sensitive instruments and aims to dig for biological signatures of life below the Red Planet's surface. The ExoMars rover is named after British chemist Rosalind Franklin and will also give scientists further insights into the history of water on Mars.

Currently, NASA is the only successful space agency to get a rover functioning on Mars. This includes the NASA Curiosity and InSight landers, which are still in operation on the planet. NASA will soon be sending another rover, recently named Perseverance, to Mars. Apart from that, China and the UAE are also planning to send rovers to Mars.

It should be noted that sending a spaceship to Mars can be done once in two years as this is the best possible lineup between the Earth and Mars. Plus, this marks the second time the ExoMars program has faced a setback. Back in 2016, the ExoMars program launched the Trace Gas Orbiter successfully. But the Schiaparelli lander malfunctioned and crashed. The 2022 deadline is a tough call, but was needed at this hour, the program executers believe.

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