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Sarko calls for global Mars exploration gig

We must all work together, says French prez

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Newly-wed French president Nicolas Sarkozy called yesterday for the world's space powers to work together in a global programme to explore Mars, New Scientist reports.

Sarkozy, speaking on a trip to the Ariane rocket launch site in French Guiana, declared: "I am convinced that an exploration programme can only be global, without exclusivity or appropriation by one nation or another... Each will be able to take part with their capabilities, their strengths and their choices."

He added: "Because Mars is there and Mars is accessible to the technologies available to humanity, we cannot refuse to attempt this adventure."

Sarkozy explained that Europe boasted "skills in robotic exploration, transport and technology", while the US could bring its financial clout and "technical and scientific competences" to the table.

Accordingly, he said he'd ask the ESA and European Union to "co-operate on a framework for dialogue with the US and other space powers on a joint initiative".

The US has had its eyes on the Red Planet for some time, and NASA last year announced a possible manned trip by 2031.

China, meanwhile, is hooking up with Russia for a joint Mars probe mission slated for 2009, and the former is reportedly keen on the idea of putting a comrade on the lunar surface at some point. ®

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