Thursday, August 4, 2011

Europe Could Downsize Mars 2016 Mission

Europe Could Downsize Mars 2016 Mission | AVIATION WEEK:

"The European Space Agency (ESA) is considering a plan to scale back or eliminate the entry, descent and landing element of a robotic science mission to Mars in 2016, a cost-saving measure that could bolster a more ambitious joint U.S.-European rover mission to the red planet two years later.

Alvaro Gimenez, ESA’s director of science and robotic exploration, says Europe could save about €120 million ($174 million) if the 19-member space agency immediately abandons development of its ExoMars Entry, Descent and Landing Module (EDL), a testbed designed to demonstrate Europe’s mastery of lander technology. Slated to launch in 2016, EDL is designed to be carried aboard a telecommunications satellite equipped with a methane-sniffing trace-gas sensor and a data relay capability indispensible to a subsequent ExoMars mission planned for 2018."