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Europe unveils Mars rover
Posted: Tue, Jun 13, 2006, 7:55 AM ET (1155 GMT)
ExoMars rover illustration (ESA) European officials unveiled a prototype of a planned Mars rover mission on Monday while suggesting that extra money could be used to augment the mission. The ExoMars mission, scheduled for launch in 2011, features a rover, nicknamed Bridget, that will carry a suite of experiments, including a "life marker chip" that will be used for astrobiological studies. The rover mission is expected to cost €600 million (US$750 million), but ESA member states have already pledged €650 million (US$820 million) towards the mission, which is part of ESA's Aurora exploration program. ESA officials suggested that they may raise additional money which would go towards an orbiter that would fly to Mars with the ExoMars rover; the orbiter would serve as a communications relay and carry instruments of its own.
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