Europe, Russia Launch Mars Mission

Europe, Russia Launch Mars Mission Europe, Russia Launch Mars Mission

Two robotic spacecraft on Monday began a seven-month journey to Mars as part of a European-Russian unmanned space mission to sniff out leads to life on the Red Planet.

Russia’s Proton rocket carrying the spacecraft launched into an overcast sky at the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe according to plan, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and the European Space Agency said, AFP reported.

Roscosmos said the launch had taken place “successfully”.

ExoMars 2016, a collaboration between ESA and Roscosmos, is the first part of a two-phase exploration aiming to answer questions about the existence of life on Mars. The ESA has said the aim was to determine “whether Mars is ‘alive’”.

With its suite of high-tech instruments, the Trace Gas Orbiter, is expected to arrive at the Red Planet in October after a journey of 496 million kilometers.

TGO will photograph the Red Planet and analyze its air, splitting off from the Mars lander dubbed Schiaparelli days before entering its atmosphere.

The second phase, a Mars rover due for launch in 2018, seems likely to be delayed over financial concerns.