On April 21, the second day of the General Meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences has concluded. Oleg Korablev, head of Exoplanet Physics Department at the RAS Institute of Space Research spoke about the ExoMars project and role the studies of this planet play in understanding the Earth and the Solar System.

The race for the Moon has long been an actively discussed topic. Russia competed actively with the United States in gaining foothold at Earth’s satellite, but that was not the case with Mars. According to Oleg Korablev, already during the launch of the Viking by the U.S., Russia’s efforts were not aimed at Mars, but rather at Venus. Yet, if current plans are fulfilled, Russia will be able to reach Mars by early 2023.

“The complex of instruments has already been created, we were ready for launch in 2020, but there was a postponement, then the pandemic played its role, some tests could not be carried out…” But we managed to turn this two-year lag into an advantage – some devices will be improved.

“Perhaps we will once again count among main players here… Mars is a planet human beings can fly to, and it is not as absurd as in the case of other planets. Just like Moon, Mars is a worthy destination. While talks of colonization are probably pointless, it is real to talk about visiting. On the other hand, closer goals, such as the delivery of Martian rock, will not only provide valuable input for fundamental exploration of another planet but for a fundamental study of the Solar System overall (of which the Earth is a part), because Mars has preserved on its surface rocks of early ages that have long been lost on Earth that is reprocessing its surface at a high rate due to the biosphere, due to the ocean, due to plate tectonics. The extent of reprocessing is very high. None of those processes are in play on Mars. There is weathering, but there are very old rocks. The delivery of such rocks and their thorough study is very important for understanding our own planet and the Solar System as a whole. There are great prospects here and I hope that Russia will find its worthy place,” says Oleg Korablev.


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