Mars Mission Blasts Off to Seek Signs of Life

March 14, 2016 11:56 AM

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Two robotic spacecraft began a seven-month journey to the Red Planet today (March 14), blasting off together atop a Russian Proton-M rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:31 a.m. EDT (0931 GMT; 3:31 p.m. local Kazakhstan time).

The spacecraft — the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a lander called Schiaparelli — constitute the first part of the two-phase ExoMars program, a European-Russian project to hunt for signs of life on the Red Planet. The second phase will launch a deep-drilling rover in 2018, if current schedules hold. [...

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