In part to the crisis that is being experienced by COVID_19, ESA and Roscosmos have decided to postpone the launch of the second ExoMars mission to study Mars from this summer until 2022 .
The main objective of the mission is to determine if there has ever been life on Mars and to better understand the history of water on the planet.
And other technical problems
In the framework ofa meeting held this March 12 in Moscow , the heads of ESA and Roscosmos, Jan Wörner and Dmitry Rogozin , admitted that, in addition to other technical problems, "the final phase of ExoMars activities is compromised by the general worsening of the epidemiological situation in European countries ".
The latest ExoMars parachute dynamic extraction tests were successfully completed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the main parachutes are ready for the final two altitude drop tests in March in Oregon, but more tests are needed to the spaceship with the final hardware and software .
The new schedule calls for a launch between August and October 2022 . Celestial mechanics defines that there are only relatively short launch windows (10 days each) every two years in which Mars can be reached from Earth.
According to ESA Director General Jan Wörner :
We want to ensure 100% of a successful mission. We cannot afford any margin for error. More verification activities will ensure safe travel and the best scientific results on Mars.