Russia says it will join the European Space Agency to launch a mission to Mars to sample dirt for signs of life.
Russia's space agency, Roskosmos, announced Friday that its chief, Vladimir Popovkin, and his European counterpart, Jean-Jacques Dordain, agreed to cooperate during talks in Moscow. Spokeswoman Anna Vedishcheva said the two sides consider that “the current project is feasible and represents a joint scientific interest.'' She said Roskosmos and the European Space Agency would sign a final agreement by the end of the year.
The European Space Agency did not comment on the talks.
The announcement comes after the U.S. space agency pulled out in February, citing budget constraints and a change in focus.
Launches are planned in 2016 and 2018. The estimated cost of the project is $1.5 billion.