New ESA Rover Will Look For Life On Mars

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) have been an outstanding success in their longevity and helping us to understand the role of water in Mars’ past. But Spirit and Opportunity don’t have the instruments on board to answer the question foremost in many people’s minds: Is there, or was there ever life on Mars?

A new spacecraft being readied by the European Space Agency (ESA) will have that ability. The rover for the ExoMars 2013 mission will have an on-board subsurface radar, a drill, and life-detection equipment as part of the scientific payload.

To help prepare for the mission, scientists at Aberystwyth University in Wales have simulated the surface of Mars in their lab to test the “roving” capabilities of the vehicle. Also being tested are the robotic arm for collecting samples and a panoramic camera.

The ExoMars mission will also have an orbiter that will scan for the best landing site for the rover. The rover is slated to travel to ten different locations in 6 months. The rover will use a radar system that can scan the surface and subsurface, a drill that can dig down 1-2 meters below the surface and gather a sample that will be brought to the onboard instruments that will look for life, past or present, in the Mars landscape.

A robotic arm that is part of this system is similar to arm that was part of the ill-fated Beagle 2 lander, that crashed on Mars surface in 2003. But the new arm has been improved, and it is hoped the arm will work with on-board cameras and to be able to acquire rock samples autonomously.

The rover will weigh about 140-180 kg, comparable to the NASA’s MER. The main scientific objectives of the ExoMars mission are to study the biological environment of Mars surface, to characterize the Mars geochemistry and water distribution and to identify possible surface hazards to future human missions.

The mission is scheduled to launch in 2013 and land on Mars in 2014.

Original News Source: BBC

20 Replies to “New ESA Rover Will Look For Life On Mars”

  1. I have to assume you mean anxious (ansheous?)

    Yes 20(13) is a little worrying for the superstitious, if you believe in that sort of thing.

    Personally, I find most scientific minds don’t even believe in God (myself included; complete atheist) – As for religion: wasn’t it introduced by ‘ancient ancestral con-men’ to control the masses through fear?

    On a final note, if you believe that 20(13) will bring bad luck to this mission specifically because of a number in the year; I ‘believe’ you’re also about to get struck down for having bad thoughts and you should probably go recite twenty more hail-marry’s.

    Now where did I put that birch branch!

  2. mystic.smeg:
    The year shall pass.
    As others have.
    Like the year 1000.
    And the year 2000.
    Good things will happen.
    And bad things will happen.
    Fear-mongers would have us all worked up over a specific date. I have rational friends that believe 2013 is special somehow.
    I am sure we will find exciting new dates to be apprehensive about.
    In 2014.
    Be of good sheer.
    My hope is live long enough for human being to have:
    Discovered many Earth-like planets orbiting other stars . . .
    Discovered life as we know it, on another planet or moon in our Solar system . . .
    Sent a probe to another Star . . .
    Set foot on Mars . . .
    Or Europa . . .


  3. Well, if it’s solar powered, lets hope we install brushes or air-blasts to keep the collector clean. I think a better hybrid would combine solar panels and a nuke together.

  4. Danzio:

    I know it’s too easy to be pessimistic in these circumstances, but unfortunately, it’s not likely human kind will ‘make it’ unless we pull our metaphoric fingers out.

    Its more likely autonomous ‘human AI’ sentinel beings (or greatly genetically modified organic beings) will explore space and populate other planets orbiting distant stars long before human kind does (if).

    I’m honestly not trying to sound like the harbinger of death, but the fact is the odds are stacked against us, time is running out. – Within a short statistical (cosmological scale) time-span human kind will inevitably whiteness a global cataclysmic event that may or may not stem from human activity. (Currently more likely to stem from human activity)

    By example:-
    1. Global warming (free Venusian sun-tan anyone?)
    2. Population explosion (wide spread pandemic, famine, etc.)
    3. World war X (self destruction!)
    4. Planet-wide poisoning (chemical build up in the oceans and soils.)
    5. Universal threat (asteroid strikes but to name a few… and with no real way of avoiding it, though we can see it coming… hmmmm…)

    I’m quite sure there are more if I really think about it. (can anyone add to this list?)

    Personally I’m looking forward to seeing man on the moon or Mars! – But even then, only if we can achieve self sustained environments will we be making head-way.


  5. 2013 ??? those missions are too slow ,
    i want to see some aliens before i die , but the only thing that i ll see in this century WARS WARS and more WARS !

  6. Hello Alex

    You want to see proof for life on other planets in our solar system? Recently, swaths of never before published pictures of our moon and of mars have been made available to the public, many of them untampered with. Google ‘The Apollo Image Gallery’ and ‘Apollo Lunar Surface Journal’. Reading ‘Dark Mission’ by Richard C. Hoagland and Mike Bara will help you to understand what you are seeing. Don’t expect to be fed images like an infant – do something. You will never go back after having embarked on this journey, believe me. Encountering people hysterically denying / ignoring all and every proof will lead you. Why do they get so upset about nonexistent things?

    Life on Mars? The first NASA probes found traces of life – later denied by NASA! The Mars Rover ran over something like a mushroom which oozed liquid after being smashed – the pics are available for those not too complacent to look for them.

    All over the world the sheeple are content with what they are being fed by their shepherds. You know what shepherds eat on sundays. Regards, Karl

  7. Hey Karl,

    I’d be interested in a couple of links from you. I’d love to see the squishy ‘Marshroom’ you detail in your reply!

    Do you think it has the same effect when smoked as the more terrestrial magic variety here on Earth?!

    [email protected]


  8. Oh COME ON, Karl: Why in the universe would NASA deny the existence of proof of life on Mars? Any such proof would have at least tripled their budget! There is absolutely no need for a conspiracy…
    Who left the loony bin open, anyway?

  9. @mystic.smeg

    add 6. Running out of fossil fuel faster than alternative means can compensate (no fusion power in the near future yet) -> Failure of markets and prosperity, failure to produce food, and so on -> anarchy, stone age

  10. Off topic…but sort of on…
    I think the time has come for login to be required for posting on this site. I remember the days where we could have intelligent conversation related to the articles without cries of “neerrrrrrds!” among others.

  11. Thanks Tarzan, good to have you around. Please feel free to join a football blog or dog fighting mailing list.
    Mystic…”Hail marry”??? Mary was her name. And you didn’t need to whiteness her yourself. “Witness” perhaps?
    Let’s up the level of literacy here folks. This is supposed to be a place of learning and appreciation of knowledge.
    2013 is pretty close. I’m excited about drilling and messing about on another planet. When does it GET to Mars? Karl, why don’t you arrange a party with our planetary neighbours. We’ll do potluck. Maybe they’d like a taste of broiled Tarzan.

  12. mystic smeg you might be interested in this: “”. An interesting paper on Existential Risks available in pdf format.

  13. @Peter K

    Thanks for the correction dude. Can I blame my keyboard? :0)

    PS: I loved your song – Is This the Way to Amarillo… 😉

  14. The style of writing is very familiar to me. Did you write guest posts for other bloggers?

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