Three international partners and the NASA agency have come together and signed a deal to work together on an upcoming mission to be able to look for the ice deposits under Mars’ surface, which is a precursor for the human flights there. In a report which was issued on February 3, the NASA agency stated that it had signed a document which they referred to as a “statement of intent” with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) as well as the Italian Space Agency (ASI) with regard to the International Mars Ice Mapper. Under this agreement, the agencies will evaluate the concepts for this mission as well as the underlying responsibilities and roles.

In the financial year 2021, NASA was able to introduce a mission concept proposal one year ago. The spaceship would deploy before 2026 as well as go into orbit around Mars via radar to look for the ice deposits which are below the Martian surface, which could be studied by a future mission to the Martian surface, comprising of human missions. In its report, the NASA agency could not reveal the likely functions of the global partners on this particular mission. Nevertheless, during the advisory committees’ previous meetings, the agency authorities stated that the CSA would offer a radar instrument, ASI will provide a communication subsystem for the spaceship, and JAXA would be able to give a spacecraft bus.

NASA will be in charge of the whole mission management and offer deployment of this spaceship. Jim Watzin, who works at NASA agency as the senior adviser helping Mars Mission schedule as well as ex-head of Mars Exploration Program, stated in a report that the innovative collaboration model for the Mars Ice Mapper does bring together their international experience as well as allows for sharing the expenses across the board to ensure that this flight is achievable for the various parties who are interested. The agency is yet to determine the exact cost for its part of the mission. Still, Watzin stated at a meeting of the committee facilitating ongoing survey that they had estimated that their share of this mission would cost them around $185 million.

During that meeting, Watzin went on to say that the Mars Ice Mapper was an essential component of the long-term scheduling for the human Mars Mission by being able to identify the regions where the water ice may be available within a depth of 5 to 10 meters of the surface as well as could allow an easy-access by the crewed expeditions.

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By Adam