Mars rover switches off but Mars exploration goes on

The Mars Exploration Rover landed successfully in 2004 on the red planet. These two rovers were initially build to operate 3 months on the Martian surface ; fifteen years later NASA announced the termination of the mission, after losing contact with the last of the two rovers. A truly extraordinary voyage on the Martian surface has ended.

Still, Mars exploration roves on. The Curiosity rover (NASA) will celebrate its 7th years on Mars this summer, and continues its climb up the central mound of Gale crater. She has just entered a new geological unit that is expected to be rich in clay minerals according to orbital observations. The IPAG participates regularly to the scientific operation of Curiosity by helping picking up targets for the ChemCam instrument. (LANL/IRAP). Next year, two additional rovers will be shipped to the Martian surface, two missions in which IPAG is involved : the NASA mission Mars2020 (the final name of the rover is TBD) and the second part the of ESA Mission ExoMars (ESA) with the landing of a rover named Rosalind Franklin.

Artist view of the soon to be launched Mars2020 rover, that should be equipped with a small helicopter (NASA/JPL)