Europe and Russia join forces for an exploration mission to Mars. Dubbed as the ExoMars mission, this endeavor aims to find signs of life on the Red Planet and test technologies for future exploration missions.
When it comes to exploring Mars, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) gets all the attention. However, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia's Roscosmos target to change that and be key players in this field of study as well.
Finding Signs Of Life In Mars
"Establishing if life ever existed on Mars is one of the outstanding scientific questions of our time," ESA writes.
With this, ESA and Roscosmos are set to launch the first stage of the ExoMars mission to further what humans know about Mars and determine what technologies future Mars exploration missions may need.
The ExoMars program actually consists of two missions, as of now. The first mission, the ExoMars 2016, is set to launch on Monday, March 14 at 9:31 UTC. Experts expect to acquire the first signals at around 21:29 UTC.
A Proton-M rocket will carry the spacecraft and will be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The public may watch the launch live at the ESA website.
ExoMars 2016 comprises of a Trace Gas Orbiter and an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module called Schiaparelli.
The second mission is scheduled for 2018, which will feature a rover that will transport a drill and other equipment that will center on geochemistry and exobiology research.
In this phase, the team also aims to land another rover that is said to have the ability to drill down 6.5 feet of the Red Planet's surface, compared to the existing rovers of NASA, which can only drill up to about 0.17 feet.
Show Of New Technologies
ExoMars will show numerous vital flight and in-position powerful technologies that are required for future missions such as the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, which is an international endeavor that involves collecting rocks and samples from mars and return it back to Earth for examinations.