Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, and ESA were collaborating on a mission involving the European ExoMars Rover, designed to look for signs of life on Mars.
The rover’s September 2022 launch was initially suspended in March
, just weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Now, the ESA Council has officially cut ties with Roscosmos on this joint project as a result of the war in Ukraine and ongoing sanctions, ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher wrote Tuesday on Twitter
There will be more details shared about the future of the mission on July 20, he said.
The ESA has been considering working more closely with NASA moving forward since it became clear the agency needed “to sever” its ties with Russia, Aschbacher said
“Geopolitically, it is clear that we need to sever our ties with Russia, and this decision has been made by the member states,” Aschbacher previously told CNN
. “So yes, it’s really unfortunate for all the science and technology and the engineers who have been working on this for four decades. But there is no other choice to make.”
The rover was originally scheduled to launch in July 2020, but the pandemic pushed back the launch window.
ExoMars is also known as Rosalind Franklin, a revered scientist who aided in the decoding of DNA’s molecular structure, according to the ESA
Part of the rover’s mission includes drilling holes up to 6.6 feet (2 meters) to collect samples for onboard analysis. ExoMars is expected to travel multiple kilometers during its mission
and is capable of moving between 164 and 328 feet
(50 and 100 meters) per Martian day, which is just under an hour longer than Earth’s 24 hours, according to NASA