A Mars rover built in Stevenage is set to launch in 2028, after the UK Space Agency gave the project a £10million financial boost.

The Rosalind Franklin Mars rover, built by Airbus in Gunnels Wood Road as part of a European Space Agency programme, had been due to launch to the Red Planet in 2022, but the collaboration with Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, was cancelled following the invasion of Ukraine.

The UK Space Agency will now provide an additional £10.7million to replace the Russian-built Infrared Spectrometer, so that the mission can recover its full scientific potential and launch to Mars in 2028.

Work on the new instrument, named Enfys  - meaning ‘rainbow’ in Welsh - will be led by Aberystwyth University.

Enfys will identify targets on the surface of Mars for sampling and analysis.

Enfys and the mission’s camera system, PanCam, will work together to identify minerals that could harbour evidence for life, to enable the rover to drill for samples to be analysed by other instruments on the rover.

The Comet: Dr Matt Gunn, principal investigator on Enfys, with a full size model of the Rosalind Franklin rover.Dr Matt Gunn, principal investigator on Enfys, with a full size model of the Rosalind Franklin rover. (Image: Aberystwyth University)

The £10.7 million brings the total UK Space Agency investment in the Rosalind Franklin rover to £377million.

Dr Matt Gunn from Aberystwyth University, principal investigator on Enfys, said: "This is a challenging and complex technical endeavour which has the potential to make a significant contribution to our search for signs of life on Mars.

"The instrument team, both here in Aberystwyth and in the partnering institutions, are all very much looking forward to receiving measurements from the planet’s surface to expand our knowledge of the Mars environment.

"We learned a lot during the development and testing of PanCam and it is a privilege to be leading the fantastic team of people who will put that knowledge into practice once again to develop a new instrument for the mission."

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Dr Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, added: "The UK-built Rosalind Franklin rover is a truly world-leading piece of technology at the frontier of space exploration. It is fantastic that experts from the UK can also provide a key instrument for this mission, using UK Space Agency funding.

"As well as boosting world-class UK space technology to further our understanding of Mars and its potential to host life, this extra funding will strengthen collaboration across the fast-growing UK space sector and economy."