“If it is shown to be biological, created by life, that would be amazing.” - Sue Home, Dir., Space Exploration, European Space Agency
Joint Europe and Russia mission to Mars blasted off today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 09:31 GMT.
Called the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), the Mars-bound satellite is expected to reach the red planet in seven months and go into a circular orbit that can study the surprising methane in the Martian atmosphere and try to determine if the source is geological or biological — meaning, is there some kind of life on Mars releasing methane? Most Earth atmospheric methane comes from biological microbes. Launch image by AP/Dmitri Lovetsky.