There’s been a lot of news about the ExoMars mission by the ESA this week. The program’s goal is to understand the atmosphere and environment of Mars and learning more of possible past life on the planet. The European Space Agency has been working hard for the launch of it’s ExoMars mission Orbiter and Module. The mission is one headed by the ESA with help from Roscosmos.

Why is ExoMars important?

ExoMars opens a new chapter in mars exploration! The mission will provide another crucial exploration of Mars. Safety (and more discovery outcomes) in numbers, amiright? With another robot on Mars that means we are getting even closer to understanding our neighbor planet.

The ExoMars missions will explore the Martian environment by studying rocks and exploring the depth of Mars. The rover to be send in 2018 will dig down two meters into the ground searching for evidence of past life on Mars. How can digging help us search for possible organic life formerly present on Mars? The rover will search for organic molecules and disposition of rock, both of which can be evidence of organic life. (x)

What data and information will we receive from the missions?

  • Crucial info about the atmosphere
  • In-depth analysis of the Schiaparelli EDM landing will help understand and improve Mars landing techniques and help prepare for the landing of the rover in 2018
  • Methane – majority of the methane produced on earth is produced by organic life. As we search methane plumes on Mars it is possible we could also find organic life. 
  • Data collected from the atmosphere and environment will help us understand the possibilities of past life on Mars (x)

Part 1: March 2016

Part one of the mission started today (March 14, 2016)! with the launch of the TGO and Schiaparelli Module onboard the Proton launcher provided and operated by Roscosmos. They will travel seven months to the Red Planet. Upon arrival, the Schiaparelli module will evaluate landing data (to perfect future Mars landings) while drifting to the surface, and after landing will study the environment through built-in sensors. The TGO will orbit Mars and study the gasses in the atmosphere (that’s where the interest in methane comes into play) and act as an information liaison between Schiaparelli and Earth. Part one is really a test mission to understand the best way to land on Mars and take samples so the rover of part two can focus it’s studies on what Schiaparelli discovers. 

Check out the successful launch:

Part 2: 2018

Part two will happen in 2018. The biggest part of this half of the mission is sending a rover to MarsThe Rover will search for past and present evidence of organic life, give us access to rock samples, and drill two meters into the ground to give what will be some of the best samples retrieved from martian soil.

ExoMars Information Breakdown (The TL;DR): 

Who: European Space Agency with the aid of Roscosmos
What: Robotic Exploration of Mars
When: Launched March 14, 2016 with Mars Arrival October 2016; Second launch (of a rover) in 2018
Where: Launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan; Destination is Mars
Why: Investigate Mars environment and atmosphere through focusing on finding evidence of organic life

For more information and to keep track of the ExoMars project don’t forget to go to the ESA site and follow @ESA_ExoMars@ESA_TGO, and @ESA on Twitter.

This article is cross-posted on my former blog which can be found here.