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EADS Astrium Wins Study For First European Mars Rover

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Friedrichshafen - Feb 09, 2004
EADS Space has been awarded a EUR900k study by ESA to carry out the first definition of a Rover to explore the Martian surface and search for life.

The study led by EADS Astrium is part of ESA's Aurora programme that aims to one day put a European astronaut on Mars.

The ExoMars Rover is the next step in the exploration of the red planet and will enable European scientists to build up a bigger picture of the Martian environment as the rover travels up to many kilometres over the surface.

Sampling the environment at many different sites is not only important in searching for the signs of life, but is the first step in taking humans to Mars. Before humans are able to step out onto the Martian surface it is vital that scientists have built up a complete picture of the planet and understand the atmosphere, the surface and sub-surface structure in detail.

The best way to do this is with a robotic mission that can investigate Mars over a wide area. This is exactly the goal of ESA's first Aurora flagship mission, ExoMars and its rover.

EADS Space has used its unique heritage in building planetary spacecraft such as Mars Express and Rosetta, combined with a deep understanding of the science goals, to win the ESA mission study.

Business Manager for new space science projects at EADS Astrium, Dr Dave Parker said: "We are delighted that ESA found our proposal attractive. Mars Express is just the first step in Europe exploring Mars. The ExoMars Rover is another part of the jigsaw which may answer the question - was there ever life on Mars ?"

The study will be led by Dr Mark Smith, Head of the Space Science Group at EADS Astrium, Stevenage. He said, "Our industrial team brings together expertise from across Europe including Galileo Avionica in Italy, Von Hoerner and Sulger in Germany, Science Systems in the UK and DLR in Germany.

Building a rover to operate at such a long distance from the Earth has many technical challenges and we therefore need an outstanding group of experts." Van Hoerner and Sulger is responsible for defining the locomotion system that will enable the rover to travel many kilometres from its landing site while Galileo Avionica will study the instrument payload and the drill and sample handling system that will enable the scientists to gather their data.

Once the member nations of ESA have agreed their contributions towards its implementation, the ExoMars mission could launch as early as 2009. "All we now need is the commitment of the decision-makers to turn this exciting vision into reality", added Mark Smith.

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Industry Asked To Design ESA Mars Rover and Payload
Paris - Jul 24, 2003
Is there life on other worlds or is planet Earth the only place in our Solar System where living organisms have evolved? ESA is inviting European and Canadian industry to participate in its exciting ExoMars mission in order to provide an answer to this age-old question.

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