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Mars EU Space

ESA's ExoMars Successfuly Lifts Off From Baikonur (esa.int) 45

vikingpower writes: The European Space Agency's second mission to Mars, ExoMars, was successfully launched from the Baikonur launch pad today. ExoMars will search for traces of life, either past or present, on the Red Planet, and is the precursor to a more full-fledged mission to Mars in 2018, comprising a rover. It consists of an orbiter and of Schiaparelli, a lander built by European industry and scheduled to land in October this year. Both missions are cooperations between ESA and RosKosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency. If one of them met their ultimate goal -- proving there is or was life on Mars — the excitement here on Earth would be unimaginable. Mark Whittington adds a link to The Guardian's coverage and a bit of detail: The Russian-made launch vehicle lobbed a probe into space, the Trace Gas Orbiter, that will enter orbit around Mars later in 2016 and search for methane in the Red Planet's atmosphere. Methane can have a number of sources, but one of them is the waste product of microbial life. Both the Mars Express orbiter and the Mars Curiosity rover have detected some measure of methane, which could be produced by geological processes as well.
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ESA's ExoMars Successfuly Lifts Off From Baikonur

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Best of luck with this mission, I will be excited to see the results of your experiments.

  • Aileen life from a planet in the same solar system. Now that would be interesting.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's amazing to think that there's a chance we will find extraterrestrial life in the next few years! It seems like that would be the biggest discovery of our lifetimes, and it would answer a question humans have pondered for thousands of years.

    If we have never found any life outside earth, t hen it is hard to say how common it may be. If ESA and Russia finds some life on another planet, even microbes or even signs of past microbes that have died, well it means life might be very common in the universe an

    • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Monday March 14, 2016 @09:32AM (#51692933) Homepage Journal

      OP here. The same thought occurred to me, while watching the Proton M rocket being launched. As it blasted off, I got that combination of itch and cold shivers I now know, as an experienced engineer, to be the foreboding of something grand. You know - I was a teenager when the Viking landers first visited Mars, and that planet seemed an utterly remote, hostile place then. Not to speak of the gas giants. Then Voyager 1 & 2 began sending their astonishing images of Jupiter; I remember being knocked off my feet by them. Then came Cassini, and its marvelous "pale blue dot" image gently forced us to re-think our situation here on Earth once more. And over the years, Mars seemed to edge ever closer, at least in our perception, up to the point where teams are already simulating long stays in isolation, including communication delays, to prepare for a human visit. Mars, in my mind, is now a bit like the Gobi desert: I'll never go, but it seems close enough, even nearly reachable. But... if life were found on Mars, either past or present, it would cause a revolution in our minds and in our thinking compared to which the one caused by the Vikings and Voyagers would appear very, very minor, however important those were in their own right. Most importantly, such missions do not only tell us about neighbouring worlds: they feed us back information on our selves, on who we are and where we stand. And that is well worth all the tax payers' money - that is invaluable.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    liquid water on Mars!

  • by Crowd Computing ( 4269575 ) on Monday March 14, 2016 @10:14AM (#51693253)
    The success rate of Russian missions to Mars is quite low. In fact, if we don't include the launches made by the former USSR, which also had a low success rate [universetoday.com], the success rate would be zero: two mission failures out of two launches [nasa.gov]. In contrast, India, a relative newcomer to deep space, managed to succeed with its one and only mission to Mars.
    • What does this have to do with Russia? Russia built the launch vehicle.
    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      The success rate of Russian missions to Mars is quite low.

      Yeah .. the russkies should stick to what they know .. Venus [wikipedia.org]

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        I'm all for that. Venus is a far more human-friendly target for colonization, and as for simple basic science, we know vastly less about Venus than we do Mars.

        • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
          It's an interesting comment. I'm assuming you mean high in Venus' clouds? I'm sure you're aware the surface is hot enough to melt lead and is awash with sulfuric acid and enormous temperature and pressure. On Mars you'd freeze and suffocate, but on Venus well... burned, crushed, corroded... :)
          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            See my comment further down. I'd pick around 70 degrees latitude, 55,5km altitude during the daytime, 52km at night. A correction: the surface is not awash in sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid cannot exist anywhere close to those temperatures at Venus pressures; it starts to fade out in the lower cloud (which seems more likely to be dominated by phosphoric acid) and completely gone by the lower haze. Also note that in none of the cloud decks are you "awash" in acid. They're acid mists, a few milligrams per

  • "The Russian-made launch vehicle lobbed a probe into space." No explosion, no failure to orbit. But that might be because the payload stage wasn't Russian?

  • And now we want them back (and have a look right where they are made why they put plastic into them). http://www.theguardian.com/lif... [theguardian.com]

Blinding speed can compensate for a lot of deficiencies. -- David Nichols