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Europe and Russia launched Exo-Mars to explore the Red Planet

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Europe and Russia launched an unmanned spacecraft, named ExoMars 2016, to explore if life once existed on the Red Planet or still possibilities are there for existence.

Exo-Mars

  • The ExoMars programme is a joint endeavour between European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos
  • It aims to explore whether life has ever existed on MarsEurope and Russia launched Exo-Mars to explore the Red Planet

Reason of name

  • ‘exo’ refers to the study of exobiology – the possible existence of life beyond Earth (sometimes also referred to as astrobiology

Two phased Mission

  • The programme comprises of two missions.
  • The first launched in March 2016 and consists of theTrace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module.
  • The second mission of Exo Mars will be launched in 2018

Trace Gas Orbiter

  • TGO will search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could possibly indicate active biological or geological processes
  • Schiaparelli will test key technologies in preparation for ESA’s contribution to subsequent missions to Mars

Second Mission

  • The second mission planned for launch in 2018 comprises of a rover and surface science platform.
  • It will carry a drill and a suite of instruments dedicated to exobiology and geochemistry research

Points to note

  • Exo-Mars launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan
  • Other Mars missions include Mangalyaan by India and two rovers Curiosity and Opportunity sent by NASA