Curiosity will help the European rover ExoMars in search of life on Mars

Curiosity will help the European rover ExoMars in search of life on Mars

Scientists this week gave an assessment of what may be the most important part of the upcoming mission to find life on Mars: location, location and again location.

The European ExoMars rover, scheduled for shipment in 2018, will be the most ambitious attempt to find evidence of life in the present or past Mars, four decades after sending the Viking expedition.

However, ExoMars designers do not start from scratch. Recent results from NASA's Curiosity Mars Science Mission show that ExoMars do not have to drill deep to collect samples.

ExoMars will carry a drill on its board that can drill up to 6, 6 feet (2 meters) in the surface of the planet. Scientists know that at this depth, organic materials (if they exist) will be protected from the onslaught of the destructive radiation to which the planet is exposed. “One of the things that Curiosity found out was to understand that not all of the surface on Mars is the same age,” said John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology, who leads the rover science team.

Last year, scientists found that the winds on Mars expose the rocks at the base of the ledges.

"One of the MSL results that can be useful is that the depth (for collecting samples) can be less than 2 meters," says ExoMars project manager Vincenzo Giorgio.

If it turns out that drilling will be impossible or inefficient, it will be possible to save this opportunity until it really becomes necessary, ”added Grotzinger.

Unlike ExoMars, Curiosity was not designed directly to search for life. Instead, he analyzes the region of Mars, known as Gale Crater, for the presence of favorable factors for life support.

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