In DepthPlanetary Science

Mars lander crash adds to 2020 rover worries

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Science  28 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6311, pp. 397-398
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6311.397

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Summary

Engineers at the European Space Agency (ESA) are racing to figure out what went wrong with the Schiaparelli Mars lander. On 19 October, it seemed to drop out of the sky and crash to the surface less than a minute before its planned soft landing. A diagnosis is urgent because many of the same pieces of technology will be used to get a much bigger ExoMars rover down to the surface in 2020. More than engineering is at stake. If the ExoMars 2020 rover is to fly at all, ESA must persuade its 22 member states to cover a €300 million shortfall in the €1.5 billion cost of the 2016 and 2020 phases of ExoMars. On 1-2 December, at a meeting of government ministers, ESA officials will make their case that members are not throwing good money after bad.