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  Russia joins ESA for exploratory robotic mission to Mars

Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) are set to conduct an ExoMars joint project on Mars exploration.
The head of Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, and Director General of ESA Jean-Jacques Dordain held talks on Russia's participation in ExoMars and signed a document on cooperation, a spokeswoman for Roscosmos told local media.

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A Russian rocket could launch the 2016 ExoMars, delivering a small static lander and an orbiting craft to investigate whether methane detected in the Martian atmosphere comes from Martian life or geological activity. But Russia has no experience in landing on Mars, and its record of failed Mars missions does not instill confidence.
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ExoMars cooperation between Nasa and Esa near collapse

The American space agency looks set to pull the plug on its joint missions to Mars with the European Space Agency.
Nasa has told Esa it is now highly unlikely it will be able to contribute to the endeavours, which envision an orbiting satellite and a big roving robot being sent to the Red Planet.

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Russia asked to join ExoMars project

Europe has formally invited Russia to participate in space missions to Mars in 2016 and 2018.
A "yes" from the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) may be the only way of saving the missions which are at risk of cancellation due to lack of funds.
The 2016 mission involves a satellite to study the Martian atmosphere, while a big robot rover to investigate the surface is scheduled for 2018.

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Smart UK navigation system for Mars rover

British engineers have developed an autonomous navigation system for a Mars rover.
The technology will guide a robotic vehicle across the surface of the Red Planet, steering it clear of hazardous rocks and gullies.
All controllers would need to do is give the vehicle the co-ordinates of a destination. The navigation system would work out the best way to get there.

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US and European efforts to send joint missions to Mars will stay in the slow lane over the summer while the Americans organise their finances.
European nations were hoping this week to release industry to start work on building an orbiter to hunt for methane in Mars' atmosphere in 2016.
But the full authority could not be given because Washington said it was not yet in a position to commit to the programme in its entirety, which includes sending a rover to the Red Planet two years later.

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Cambridge students have tested a parachute capable of safely landing a probe on Mars.

Students from the Cambridge University Spaceflight team (CUSF) have successfully tested model parachutes for the ExoMars lander. The ExoMars lander project is a European-led robotic mission to Mars. Working in conjunction with the European Space Agency, the student team tested a model of a parachute capable of landing on Mars, by re-entering the Earths atmosphere at 450mph.
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CUSF Parachute Deployment Test



Cutting away from a high altitude balloon and deploying a parachute. that was packed above the upward facing slow-mo camera.



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Mars missions encounter hitch

US and European efforts to send joint missions to Mars have encountered yet another hitch.
A letter from Washington formally committing to combined ventures at the planet in 2016 and 2018 was expected in Paris this week, but did not arrive.
It meant European nations could not authorise their industry to start the next phase of building on an orbiter to hunt for methane in Mars' atmosphere.

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Testing Mars Missions in Morocco

Gian Gabriele Ori and his colleagues recently brought a group of scientists to this remote region near the Algerian border, where many of the instruments being developed for the upcoming ExoMars missions will be put through their paces.  The missions, joint ventures of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), will study the martian atmosphere, geology, and water cycle, and also search for signs of past and present life on Mars.
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DLR researchers simulate the martian atmosphere

To support the European ExoMars Mission to explore the Red Planet, an international project is being launched on 20 January 2011 with the aim of simulating the entry of spacecraft into the martian atmosphere. The project team is made up of German, Russian and Italian scientists and will be coordinated by the Supersonic and Hypersonic Technology Department (Uberschall- und Hyperschalltechnologie) at the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology (Institut für Aerodynamik und Strömungstechnik; IAS). Among other things, researchers are now simulating the atmosphere of Mars in a wind tunnel at the DLR's site in Cologne.
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