Pasadena, CA (March 14, 2016) -- The European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscomos today launched the first mission of the ExoMars program aboard a Proton-M rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The ExoMars 2016 mission includes a Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module. The Trace Gas Orbiter will use four science instruments to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signs of present-day active biological or geological processes. Schiaparelli will test technologies in preparation for future ESA and Roscosmos missions to the surface of Mars. ExoMars will also carry an Electra radio system that will make it part of the interplanetary communications network designed to relay precious data from present and future ESA, Roscosmos, and NASA Mars landers back to Earth.
Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society, issued the following congratulatory statement:
“The Planetary Society congratulates ESA and Roscosmos on the successful ExoMars launch. It’s a big step in a mission that will build on the successes of the international Mars program. This mission will help us understand the source or sources of methane on Mars, which may be signs of present geologic activity or of past or even present life: Discoveries that would change the world. The more we learn about Mars and other worlds, the closer we come to understanding our origin and place within the cosmos. We look forward to ExoMars providing insights into the Martian methane mystery. In the meantime, we’re rooting for a successful arrival for this landmark mission.”
The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a longtime member of The Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.