Moon, Mars, Jupiter exploration open prospects for ESA-Russia cooperation

PARIS, Jan. 18 (PNA/Itar-Tass) — The European Space Agency (ESA) considers Russia as one of the key partners and has high hopes for joint projects on the exploration of the Moon, Mars and Jupiter, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain told Itar-Tass on Friday.

“Cooperation with Russia is very important for us,” he said at an annual news conference in Paris. “Last year we signed a number of agreements, including the most important one on the ExoMars exploration program. The latter is in the focus of our efforts at the moment.”

Joint exploration of the Moon, enshrined in the July 2013 memorandum between ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, opens new prospects for co-operation, Dordain said.

“And I am talking, first of all, of Russian lunar missions, to which ESA can contribute,” he said. “We highly favor this kind of cooperation.”

At present, ESA specialists consider which concrete projects may be implemented along these lines over the coming years, Dordain said, adding that there were plans to allocate “several million euros” to finance this work.

“We will probably have to ask member-states for additional funding,” he said.

Some other research programs enabling Russian and European specialists’ joint activities include plans to launch a probe to the Martian moon Phobos as well as “the possibility of exploration of Jupiter, also within Europe’s JUICE mission”.

Russia has become an important partner for us, and we want to cooperate,” Dordain said. (PNA/Itar-Tass)