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Europe, Russia to Search for Life on Mars

  • Fern Robinson

The Proton-M rocket booster blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, March 14, 2016.

The Proton-M rocket booster blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, March 14, 2016.

The European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos have joined efforts to send a spacecraft to Mars.

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter blasted off Monday from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan atop a proton rocket.

The voyage to Mars is expected to take seven months with the spacecraft arriving on the red planet in October after a journey of 496 million kilometers.

The ESA has said the aim of the mission is to determine "whether Mars is alive" and so the mission will be looking to solve the mystery of the source of Mars' methane gas.

Traces of methane, a gas composed of carbon and hydrogen, have been observed in previous Mars missions.

Methane gas is created largely by living microbes and is produced in abundance on earth at swamps, landfills and other deposits. It is also produced from processes deep underground that result in fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.

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