The first part of the two-phase ExoMars mission successfully blasted off atop a Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday (March 14) at 5:31 a.m. EST (0931 GMT).
The launch sent the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli landing demonstrator on a seven-month journey to Mars. Upon arrival, TGO will begin searching the Martian air for methane (a possible sign of life) from orbit, while Schiaparelli will descend to the surface, to test out landing technologies for the second part of ExoMars — a life-hunting rover that's slated to blast off in 2018.
Learn more about ExoMars — which is led by the European Space Agency (ESA), with Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, serving as a partner — and the upcoming launch in Space.com's complete coverage below. [Gallery: The ExoMars Missions]
- ExoMars 2016 Spacecraft and Proton Rocket Rolled Out To Launch Pad
- Red But Not Dead - ExoMars Orbiter To Look For Water And Life
- Did Life Ever Exist On Mars? Russian/European Probe To Find Out
- Mars' Next Rover Remote Controlled From 620 Miles Away | Time-Lapse Video
- Deeper Drill Destined For Red Planet - ExoMars 2018
- Mars Bound: Europe's ExoMars and Beyond
Infographics and Multimedia
Monday, March 14
The first phase of the European-Russian ExoMars mission successfully launched toward the Red Planet atop a Proton-M rocket on March 14, 2016, despite an overcast sky. The two instruments on board are now on their way to Mars.
Sunday, March 13
The Science of ExoMars: New Mission to Hunt for Mars Life
If the European-led ExoMars mission successfully launches into space tomorrow (March 14) as planned, scientists will have two intrepid new scouts in their search for life on the Red Planet.
Wild Ride to Mars: Inside ExoMars' Schiaparelli Lander Prototype
The ExoMars mission launching Monday (March 14) will pack an orbiter as well as an ambitious Mars lander prototype that will make the challenging descent to a controlled landing on Mars.
Friday, March 11
ExoMars Spacecraft Roll Out to Launchpad for Monday's Liftoff (Photos)
The next robotic mission to Mars has rolled out to the launchpad ahead of its planned Monday (March 14) liftoff.
Thursday, March 10
ExoMars Spacecraft Mated with Rocket Ahead of Monday's Launch (Photos)
Two European Mars spacecraft have been mated to the rocket that will blast them toward the Red Planet on Monday (March 14).
NASA Rover on Mars May Have Ringside Seat to Europe's ExoMars Mission
The European Space Agency's ExoMars 2016 mission is set to launch on March 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. When it arrives at the Red Planet in October, NASA's Opportunity rover may be in the right place at the right time.
Wednesday, March 9
Red Planet Triumphs and Defeats: A History of Mars Missions
Despite a decade of successes, more than half of all attempted Mars missions have failed. Here's a brief look at the troubled history of exploring the Red Planet.
Tuesday, March 8
European-Russian Mission to Mars Launches Next Week
The first part of the two-phase, joint European-Russian ExoMars mission is scheduled to blast off atop a Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kakakhstan on March 14.
Mars Rover Prototype Practices on Earth for Stressful Moments (Video)
A prototype of Europe's first Mars rover practiced for some of the most stressful moments after arriving on the planet – getting the rover off its landing platform shortly after it arrives on the Martian surface.
ExoMars Mission Will Arrive on Time, Despite Hiccup
The ExoMars launch date has been pushed back by a couple of months. Instead of launching in January 2016, the European mission will launch the following March — but still get to Mars at nearly the same time. How is this possible?
Orion Launch: Why the World Needs More Than One Mars Effort
What is so important about Mars, in particular, that ESA supports not one but two missions and wants to send humans to the Red Planet?
Four Potential Mars Landing Sites Revealed for Europe's ExoMars Rover
European space officials are eyeing four possible landing sites on Mars for a life-seeking rover set to launch toward the Red Planet in 2018.
Robotic Mars Landing Module Named 'Schiaparelli' to Honor 19th-Century Astronomer
The ESA's Martian lander will bear the name of the Italian astronomer that once provided detailed maps of the Red Planet's surface. Meet the new Schiaparelli.
Europe's ExoMars May End Russia's Bad Luck on Mars
Officials in charge of Europe's ExoMars rover, part of a joint Mars exploration project with Russia, say they are confident the life-seeking robot will reach the Red Planet's surface despite Russia's record of star-crossed Mars missions.
European Space Ball Could Bring Mars Samples to Earth (Video)
Though no Mars sample-return mission is firmly on the books, the European Space Agency has supported the development of a proof-of-concept container built to keep Martian samples safe as they journey from their home world to Earth.
European Mars Rover Prototype Takes Big Test Drive in Chile Desert
A prototype of Europe's planned ExoMars rover, dubbed Bridget by its control team, spent several days working in Chile as part of the Sample Field Acquisition Experiment with a Rover (SAFER) trial between Oct. 7 and 13.
Europe's 2016 Mars Mission Enters Final Construction Phase
Europe's next mission to Mars has passed a key milestone to enter its final construction phase in pursuit of a planned 2016 launch toward the Red Planet.
Russia and Europe Team Up for Mars Missions
Russian and European space officials signed a deal to launch a Red Planet orbiter in 2016 and a rover in 2018 as part of the ExoMars program.
When Exploring Other Planets, International Cooperation Is Key
Though 2012 has been a rough year for international cooperation in planetary exploration, space agencies around the globe should remain committed to working together, a prominent researcher says.
Europe OKs Funding for Mars Mission with Russia
The ruling council of the European Space Agency (ESA) on March 15 agreed to continue funding a Mars telecommunications orbiter and atmospheric gas analyzer mission for launch in 2016, which along with an entry, descent and landing module will be launched on a Russian Proton rocket donated by the Russian space agency.
Big NASA Budget Cuts to Slash Mars Missions, Experts Say
Funding cuts will probably force NASA to withdraw from the European-led ExoMars missions.
Is NASA Pulling Out of Europe's Mars Exploration Missions?
NASA is close to announcing its intention to pull out of the European-led ExoMars mission, according to reports.
Robot Mars Lander Gets Experiments for 2016 Mission
NASA and the European Space Agency have picked the experiments for a new Mars lander that will launch toward the Red Planet in 2016.
Better Mars Atmosphere Maps to Come From New Mission
An instrument on an upcoming mission to orbit will make daily maps of the Red Planet's atmosphere.
New Mars Orbiter Will Be a Super-Sniffer
Instruments supporting a joint mission Mars in 2016 have been selected by NASA and the European Space Agency.