ESA and NASA establish a joint Mars exploration initiative ESA

On 29 and 30 June the ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, David Southwood, met NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science, Ed Weiler, in Plymouth, UK, to establish a way for a progressive programme for exploration of the Red Planet. The outcome of the bilateral meeting was an agreement to create a Mars Exploration Joint Initiative (MEJI) that will provide a framework for the two agencies to define and implement their scientific, programmatic and technological goals at Mars.
Discussions between ESA and NASA began in December 2008, driven by the ESA Ministerial Council’s recommendation to seek international cooperation to complete the ExoMars mission and to prepare further Mars robotic exploration missions. At the same time, NASA was reassessing its Mars Exploration Program portfolio after the launch of its Mars Science Laboratory was delayed from 2009 to 2011.