Rogozin Courts Chinese Cooperation on ExoMars, Space Station

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Chinese government-owned CGTN website has an interview with Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin. With relations severely damaged with the West due to sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Roscosmos is increasingly focused on deepening cooperation with China’s surging space program. The partnership already includes jointly developing a crewed base on the moon in the 2030s.

On the suspended ExoMars mission with Europe, Rogozin said:

“In the construction of ExoMars, the main element is the landing module. The Mars research rover is not the essential element. I think we can make this mission happen with another partner like China or someone else.”

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UK Industry to Design a Future Mars Rover

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — UK industry will design a future Mars rover, Science Minister Sam Gyimah announced today after a visit to the Harwell space cluster with Tim Peake.

A new rover set to visit Mars and collect the first ever samples from the planet to be brought back safely to Earth, will be designed in Stevenage by Airbus following the award of a £3.9 million contract by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The sample fetch rover will retrieve samples left by NASA’s Mars 2020 rover and transfer them to an ascent vehicle. This will put them into orbit about the planet, where they will then be brought back to Earth by a separate spacecraft.

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Long-Lived Mars Rover Opportunity Keeps Finding Surprises

Textured rows on the ground in this portion of “Perseverance Valley” are under investigation by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which used its Navigation Camera to take the component images of this downhill-looking scene. The rover reaches its 5,000th Martian day, or sol, on Feb. 16, 2018. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity keeps providing surprises about the Red Planet, most recently with observations of possible “rock stripes.”

The ground texture seen in recent images from the rover resembles a smudged version of very distinctive stone stripes on some mountain slopes on Earth that result from repeated cycles of freezing and thawing of wet soil. But it might also be due to wind, downhill transport, other processes or a combination.

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Opportunity Hits 5,000 Days on Mars

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the dawn of the rover’s 4,999th Martian day, or sol, with its Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on Feb. 15, 2018, yielding this processed, approximately true-color scene. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ./Texas A&M)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The Sun rose on NASA’s solar-powered Mars rover Opportunity for the 5,000th time on Saturday, sending rays of energy to a golf-cart-size robotic field geologist that continues to provide revelations about the Red Planet.

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NASA: Tight Budget + Cost Overuns = Big Trouble

With its budget just keeping up with inflation and large costs overruns on key programs, NASA is facing some tough decisions. A roundup of news stories below:

Major NASA projects over budget
USA Today

Two-thirds of the agency’s new programs are over-budget or behind schedule.

“NASA’s nearly stagnant budget requires the agency to cut projects to make up for unexpected expenses, and cost overruns nearly shut down one of the rovers on Mars — until it got a reprieve Tuesday. They also threaten completion of a climate-change satellite called Glory,” the paper reports.

Mars Rovers Survive NASA’s Budget Crunch
Washington Post

NASA has rescinded a letter ordering the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to make deep cuts in the operating budgets of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that are exploring Mars.

NASA holds off on budget cuts to Mars rover program
Los Angeles Times

“An order to trim $16 million from the popular missions is withdrawn. But even bigger reductions might be called for later,” the paper reports.

NASA has blamed James Green, head of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, for not properly clearing his letter to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with Administrator Mike Griffin.