The quest for life on Mars got a boost
This is the first of two unmanned missions for the ExoMars programme, in search of current or past life on the Red Planet, or evidence thereof.
Monday's launch, from the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, used a Russian-built Proton carrier rocket to send the ExoMars spacecraft beyond the Earth's atmosphere.
The spacecraft, carrying a satellite and a landing module, is scheduled to reach Mars in mid-October.
The satellite - the Trace Gas Orbiter - should analyse the Red Planet's atmosphere for traces of methane and other gases that could be evidence of life.
The Schiaparelli landing module will test capabilities for safely landing a second unmanned mission on the planet.
The second mission, scheduled to blast off in 2018, should bring a rover robot to study the planet's soil.