Future Mars exploration

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As the International Space Station is being completed, ESA is looking toward the long-term future of human spaceflight. This includes sending people back to the Moon and on to Mars.

Before people can set foot on Mars, it is essential to be sure that they can travel there and back safely, and survive on the Red Planet. Under the Aurora programme, ESA is working to find out the best way to send humans beyond Earth orbit.

The first studies have already begun. Some of these are looking at technologies that will be needed for landing on Mars and re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Eventually, by going to the Moon, astronauts will learn how to live and work on another world.

What about Mars itself? During the ExoMars mission, a wheeled robot will land on the planet and explore the landing site. A few years later, a sample of Martian rock and soil will be returned to Earth for careful study.

Eventually, working alongside international partner countries, ESA will take part in the first human expedition to the Red Planet – not earlier than the year 2035.

Last modified 11 March 2005