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The long, tangled journey of a European rover to Mars takes another twist

Enlarge / Artist’s concept of the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover on Mars. (credit: Adrian Mann/Stocktrek Images)

The more than two dozen nations that make up the European Space Agency concluded their high-level “ministerial” meeting on Wednesday, establishing a budget and priorities for the next three years.

A German delegate chosen to chair the meeting, Anna Christmann, said the space agency’s plans reflect a bold agenda for Europe to lead in climate science and maintain independent and launch capability. The goal is for Europe to stand alongside the United States and China as a major space power. “We’ve shown Europe is ambitious,” said Christmann at a media conference to discuss results of the meeting.

Germany, France, and Italy remain the major players in ESA, combining to contribute nearly 60 percent of its overall funding. The member nations agreed to contribute 16.9 billion euro ($17.5 billion) to agency programs over the next three years. This is less than the 18.5 billion euro sought by ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher but still significantly higher than the total for the previous three-year period of 14.5 billion euro.

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