ExoMars mission to search for signs of life on the Red Planet


READY TO GO The ExoMars orbiter and lander sit inside a Proton rocket (pictured),  ready for a scheduled March 14 departure for the Red Planet.


A new Mars probe is about to take off on a mission to hunt down chemical signs of life in the Red Planet’s atmosphere. On March 14, ExoMars is scheduled to depart from Kazakhstan for a seven-month journey to Mars, where it will spend several years orbiting the planet making an inventory of all gases including methane, a possible by-product of life.

Along with an orbiter, ExoMars will deliver a lander named Schiaparelli, which will test entry, descent and landing techniques for a rover planned to launch in 2018. The orbiter will act as a telecommunications relay for both this lander and the future rover. Both missions are joint projects of the European and Russian space agencies. 

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

More Stories from Science News on Planetary Science