Francois Forget, an astrophysicist at France’s CNRS scientific research center, said that “this new impetus for cooperation is linked to the fact that this time the US has a joint project with Europe: Mars sample return.”
The mission, planned for around 2030, aims to return to Earth samples collected from Mars by both ExoMars and Perseverance, which touched down on the planet in July 2021.
Unlike Perseverance, the Rosalind Franklin rover can drill down to two meters (6.5 feet) below the surface of Mars, where traces of possible ancient life may be better preserved.
ExoMars’ planned landing site is also in a region of Mars expected to be more favorable for hosting past life.
“We think there was a lot of water,” forgot.
“There’s one more Mars to explore, so even in 10 years’ time the mission won’t be obsolete,” he said.