Paris: Mars and its life-harbouring possibilities have been on the top of numerous space agencies' list of priorities and NASA's 2020 Mars mission is one of the most anticipated in the space world.
Meanwhile, the European Space Agency (ESA) had been readying the ExoMars project, which included a 230-million-euro test lander to lay the groundwork by launching a rover on Mars. The project, unfortunately, witnessed a brutal ending after the paddling pool-sized lander dubbed Schiaparelli smashed into the Red Planet on October 19.
ESA had budgeted 1.5 billion euros for the ExoMars, a joint project with Russia, however, the Schiaparelli crash had raised doubts over ESA's participation in the International Space Station (ISS).
Now, ending all doubts and speculations, Europe has approved an extra 1.4 billion euros (USD 1.5 billion) today to resuscitate a life-seeking Mars rover project and keep its place on the ISS, the ESA said in a statement.
"All of this together is about 1.444 billion" euros, ESA director general Jan Woerner told a press conference webcast from Lucerne, Switzerland, at the close of a two-day meeting of the 22-country agency's ministerial council, pointing to the ExoMars project and ISS.
ESA had sought an extra 400 million euros from its 22 member countries for the rover, and about a billion euros to prolong Europe's participation in the US-led ISS.
The programme also includes a Mars orbiter in place around our neighbouring planet since October.
The ministers ended long uncertainty over whether or not Europe would continue in the ISS science platform -- a joint project of Europe, Canada, the United States, Japan and Russia.
Europe was previously committed only until 2020. The other participants have already agreed to operate and finance the ISS to at least 2024.
(With PTI inputs)