On Monday, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos collaborated to launch the ExoMars mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which will help Europe and Russia to learn more about the unique qualities of the red planet.
As the ESA noted in a press release just after the successful launch this week, this is the first of two missions that Europe and Russia will be collaborating on, and it will take seven months for the ExoMars mission to actually reach Mars due to the distance between Earth and Mars.
ExoMars will be focusing on some unanswered questions that are important to better understand before any deep space travel missions with live astronauts could be carried out. Such things it will be focusing on are taking atmospheric samples and studying the possibility of existence of biological or geological activity.
On board the rocket that launched earlier this week was a special orbiter called the Trace Gas Orbiter that will orbit the red planet to study its conditions, as well as a lander known as Schiaparelli.
The orbiter is now on its way to Mars, carrying the Schiaparelli lander, and has its solar fins extended to collect energy from the Sun during its journey. It is expected to arrive on the 16th of October, where it will drop the lander onto the red planet three days later so it can do its thing. It should only take about six minutes for the lander to touch ground.
The Trace Gas Orbiter will be looking for Methane, as well as any other gasses that could signify a biological footprint on Mars. Earth has tons of methane in its atmosphere because of all the life our planet supports, so it’s a good sign to look for.
With another mission for Mars in the works, we might just be ever-so-closer to sending mankind to the red planet to live there permanently inside of 3D-printed habitation.