Scientists eager to get on board ExoMars

May 28, 2003

Paris, May 2003

For centuries, mankind has wondered whether alien life exists on another planet in our solar system. One of the most promising places to discover signs of life beyond Earth is the planet Mars, and scientists around the globe are clamouring for an opportunity to participate in ExoMars, an exobiology mission which is being planned as part of ESA's pioneering Aurora Programme.

Earlier this year, ESA issued a call for ideas for the Pasteur instrument payload that will be carried on the ExoMars rover. The response has been remarkable, with some 580 investigators from 30 countries expressing the desire to participate in this exciting mission.

"There has been a great response from the international scientific community, with approximately 260 universities, research institutes and companies wanting to take part," said Jorge Vago, ExoMars study scientist. "Apart from the ESA Member States, we have had expressions of interest from scientists in Australia, Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia, the United States and much of Eastern Europe."

ExoMars' latitudinal landing bands

"There are some very innovative proposals which involve 'leapfrog jumps' in technology, including cameras that will outperform anything previously flown and several instruments using biochips, an advanced technology that has enormous potential for detecting organic molecules."

Over the next few months, the flood of proposals will be subjected to a rigorous peer review in order to select the most appropriate technologies to achieve the mission objectives. Working groups of scientists from the teams that put forward the most promising proposals will then be given the opportunity to define the composition of the Pasteur payload that will eventually travel to Mars.


ExoMars, the first Flagship mission in ESA's long-term Aurora Programme, is currently scheduled for launch in 2009.

The primary objective of ExoMars will be to search for signs of life, past or present, on the Red Planet. Secondary objectives will be to identify potential surface hazards to future human missions, to determine the distribution of water on Mars and to measure the chemical composition of the surface rocks.

These studies will be undertaken by a large (230 kg), high-mobility rover equipped with a comprehensive suite of scientific instruments - the Pasteur payload. The instrument mass of this payload is anticipated to be around 30 kg.

The final decision on ExoMars will be taken at the ESA Ministerial Council meeting in late 2004.

For further information contact:
Dr Jorge L. Vago
ExoMars Study Scientist

European Space Agency ml

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Programme Director (GSA Singapore) GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Boats docked in Port Hercule, Monaco

Richard Murphy praises a bold effort to halt tax-dodging by the 1 per cent

It’s a question with no easy answer, finds James Derounian

  • James Fryer illustration (19 November 2015)

With no time for proper peer review and with grade inflation inevitable, one academic felt compelled to resign

  • Lisa Mckenzie, Class War Party candidate, Chingford

Anarchist academic reflects on what her recent brush with the law says about threats to academic freedom

  • Worker checks thin-film silicon solar module, Truebbach

Asia doubles representation while European countries face varied performance