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ExoMars - Searching for life on Mars

  • 1stphase began in 2016, 2nd is scheduled for 2020
  • Mission: Search for life on Mars
  • JointEuropean/Russian venture
  • Airbus Defence and Space is developing ExoMars rover

The European and Russian space agencies (ESA and Roscosmos respectively) launched their joint mission on 14 March to test technology for future exploratory surface missions on Mars. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, expected to reach the Red Planet in October, will study its atmosphere and drop a lander on its surface.

This is just the first part of the programme whose ultimate goal is to search for life on Mars. The second part, scheduled for 2020, will put a 300 kg rover on the planet. Capable of drilling up to 2m below the surface, it would search for signs of past or present life. The collected data will help to evaluate risks for future manned missions.

The ExoMars rover, a robotic Mars vehicle, is currently under development by Airbus Defence and Space.