Mars Beckons for European satellite
Another satellite known as the Trace Gas Orbiter will be launched early next year after tests and construction are completed. This satellite is going to Mars' orbit to study the atmosphere for traces of methane gas which could hint at possible biological life being present on the planet below. The construction of this project is being handled by engineers at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France while the launch will occur in Kazakhstan later in January where it will take about nine months to reach its destination, the orbit of Mars.
Once in orbit the Trace Gas Orbiter will launch a lander, known as Schiaparelli, to the surface below to help gauge the possibility of a rover mission in a few more years by measuring weather patterns and other minor details. The next thing that needs to occur is more testing such as thermal vacuum testing so it can withstand the trip to Mars via space. While the United States has a small role to play in the development of this project the majority of the work is being done by the European Space Agency and the Russians.
April 3, 2015