Europe and Russia planning missions to Mars

European and Russia space officials are teaming up to create missions to Mars, specifically to send spacecraft to look for signs of life on the red planet.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos signed a deal yesterday (March 14) as part of the ExoMars program to launch a Red Planet orbiter in 2016 and a rover in 2018.

In 2016, the ESA will provide the Trace Gas Orbiter to study the chemical composition of the atmosphere of Mars, as well as the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module. For the mission in 2018, Europe will provide the carrier and ExoMars rover, which will look for signs of life both past and present by collecting samples from as deep as 2 metres.

A statement from ESA reads,

It will be the first Mars rover able to drill to depths of 2 m, collecting samples that have been shielded from the harsh conditions of the surface, where radiation and oxidants can destroy organic materials,

Roscosmos will supply launchers for both of the missions and the descent module and surface platform in 2018. Both Russia and Europe will provide scientific instruments and will work together on goals of the missions, according to ESA.

Source: European Space Agency