NASA Audio File

NASA and ESA’S First Joint Mission To Mars Selects Instrument
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have embarked on a joint program to explore Mars in the coming decades and selected the five science instruments for the first mission. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, scheduled to launch in 2016, is the first of three joint robotic missions to the Red Planet. It will study the chemical makeup of the Martian atmosphere with a 1000-fold increase in sensitivity over previous Mars orbiters. The mission will focus on trace gases, including methane, which could be potentially geochemical or biological in origin and be indicators for the existence of life on Mars. The mission also will serve as an additional communications relay for Mars surface missions beginning in 2018. 

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Ed Weiler, Assoc. Admin. for Science Mission Directorate

Cut 1 (00:44) -Mars is probably the most likely place in the solar system other than the Earth, for life to evolve at some point in time.  It was wet, it has standing water, it has organic material, it has energy, it has all the ingredients for life and there may have been life there at some time. Now it may have only been bacteria type of life, but it is important to find out, because if the very first place we look for life in depth, we find it or find fossil evidence of it, that has profound implications for a universe that has as we know now that has hundreds, if not thousands, if not billions of planets out there and it says something about the possibility of life in the universe.
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Doug McCuistion, Director, Mars Exploration Program

“The driving reason behind ESA NASA collaboration is to build our capabilities to return sample from MARS in the 20/20’s. That’s a complicated series of missions it’s not a single missions we called it a campaign because it could cover two or maybe three launch opportunities, to be able to set the infrastructure on the planet, get the sample back off the planet and return those to Earth safely.         That’s the driving goal for this broad collaboration, is the ability to do that in an International context.”
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