Proton-M booster with ExoMars-2016 station designated to search for life forms on Mars was launched from Baikonur spaceport today on March 14, 2016.
The main task of 2016 mssion is to search for methane in traces in Mars atmosphere, that could indicate the presence of life forms on the Red Planet in the past or present and well as to test technologies for the next ExoMars mission scheduled for 2018.
Proton was launched nominally, Briz-M upper stage successfully separated from the booster.
Space device will separate from the upper stage is planned for 23.13, Moscow time. Report on the signal receipt is scheduled for March 15, 00.28, Moscow time, – Roscosmos spokesman said.
ExoMars-2016 and ExoMars-2018 is unique joint project of ESA and Roscosmos. In the course of first mission Trace Gas Orbiter module will study trace gas in Mars atmosphere and ice distribution in Mars soil using equipment developed by RAS Space Research Institute while Schiaparelli landing module is expected to practice the entry and land on Mars surface.
Next mission scheduled for 2018 will deliver to Mars descent module and Mars rover. The scientists from Europe and Russia dealing with this project hope to drill Mars ground to 2 meters and take samples of soil.