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.
- 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 Mars
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
- 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