ExoMars blasts off to seek life on the Red Planet

With a flash of orange under an overcast sky, a rocket blasted off from a Kazakhstan cosmodrome yesterday. On board: the first part of the ExoMars mission – a program designed to sniff for life on Mars. Belinda Smith reports.

ExoMars 2016 lifts off on a Proton-M rocket at Baikonur cosmodrome on March 14, 2016 in Kazakhstan. – Stephane Corvaja / ESA

An instrument designed to sniff for signs of life on Mars successfully lifted off from the the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday and zoomed out of Earth orbit.

The launch marked the beginning of ExoMars, a joint mission between Europe and Russia.

The Trace Gas Orbiter on board the Proton rocket will sniff for methane from the Martian orbit.

Meanwhile, a lander will drop from the spacecraft and land on the planet's surface, a trial run ahead of the mission's second stage due in 2018, when a European rover will drill for signs of life.

Read more about the mission – ExoMars set to sniff out life on the Red Planet – and watch the launch below:

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  1. https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/exomars-set-sniff-out-life-red-planet
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