First of two Europe/Russian missions blasts off seeking life on Mars

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.

Last update: Mon, 14/03/2016 - 11:52
Author: 

More from Science & Tech

Facebook to build data centre in Denmark

The Danish city of Odense and social media giant Facebook announced on Thursday the city was to host a new European...

Scientists say 2016 was warmest on record, for third consecutive time

Last year was the warmest since recordkeeping began in 1880, US government scientists said Wednesday, making 2016...

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket makes first launch since September explosion

An unmanned SpaceX rocket blasted off from a California launch pad on Saturday and delivered 10 satellites into low...

Apple partner Foxconn suffers sales drop amid slow iPhone 7 shipments

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group reported its first-ever annual sales decline late Tuesday, in...

10 years of the iPhone: The smartphone that changed everything

As the late Apple head Steve Jobs appeared on Macworld conference stage on January 9, 2007, attendees were already...