ESA’s scientists are working on an ion thruster that would be powered by space air. The new thruster is under development and it could extend the lives of satellites orbiting Earth and possibly making space exploration missions longer. More importantly, the air-breathing thruster could pave its way towards the exploration of the Red Planet. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, and the European Space Agency are planning to send up an exploration rover by 2020. It is going to explore Mars, and analyze its surface samples in search of extraterrestrial life.
The rover is likely to be carried by a Russian rocket from the Proton family. The rocket is estimated to travel for nine months until it reaches the Red Planet. Over the course of the mission, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter will be establishing and maintaining communication between the rover and the control center located in Turin, Italy.
ESA hasn’t yet confirmed whether the air-breathing thruster would be a part of the mission. However, the newly developed technology could be a lot of help during the upcoming mission, providing power for both the rocket and the orbiter.
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