#Mars #Alien – Mars lander released for red planet TODAY as hunt for alien life begins : The Mars lander is destined to hit the surface of the red planet – testing the area for conditions ahead of a planned project to send a Mars rover in. The rover, sent in by Europe, will search for signs of past and present life.
After a seven-month journey from Earth as part of the European-Russian ExoMars programme, the Schiaparelli lander was expected to separate from spacecraft Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) on Sunday, and start a three-day descent to the surface.
Schiaparelli represents only the second European attempt to land a craft on Mars, after a failed mission by the British landing craft Beagle 2 in 2003. The primary goal of ExoMars is to find out whether life has ever existed on Mars.
The current spacecraft carries an atmospheric probe to study trace gases such as methane, around the planet. Landing on Mars, Earth’s neighbour some 35 million miles (56 million km) away, is a notoriously difficult task that has bedevilled most Russian efforts and given NASA trouble as well.
The United States currently has two operational rovers on Mars, Curiosity and Opportunity. But a seemingly hostile environment has not detracted from the allure of Mars, as US President Barack Obama recently highlighting his pledge to send people to the planet by the 2030s.