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Thales: contract with ESA for Mars exploration

( - Thales Alenia Space announced Tuesday that it has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to relaunch the development of a 'rover' for the exploration and search for life on Mars.

The joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) says that the contract - worth 522 million euros - provides for the continuation of activities essential for the 'ExoMars 2028' mission.

The agreement covers the development of the Entry, Descent and Landing Module (EDLM), as well as maintenance and upgrades to vehicles already manufactured for the 2022 mission.

The next ExoMars mission, to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at the end of 2028, will explore the surface of Mars and attempt to answer the question of whether there was ever life on the Red Planet.

Led by ESA with the participation of NASA, the program includes the supply of a European 'rover' (robot) capable of moving autonomously on Martian soil.

This vehicle, scheduled to arrive on Mars in 2030, will be equipped with a drill developed by Leonardo to take core samples up to two meters deep.

The chemical, physical and biological properties of the samples collected will then be analyzed directly on site by an on-board mini-laboratory developed by Thales Alenia Space.

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