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ExoMars is away!

14 Mar 2016, 20:13 UTC
ExoMars is away!
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This morning ESA's ExoMars mission set off from Baikonur spaceport, riding a Proton rocket on the first leg of its journey to Mars - here's an ESA video of the launch:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The launch was bang on time (well.. not literally BANG, else this would be a different kind of article) and it's completed all but one of the post launch manoeuvres needed to put itself on a course for Mars.Whats the deal with sending another spacecraft to Mars?It seems like we get quite a few launches to Mars, and that's because we do. But space agencies aren't just obsessed with red sad: Although Mars is a frigid desert, with air as thin as you'd find on a 20km high terrestrial mountain, there's a lot of evidence that in the deep past it was a lot more habitable. It had deep lakes, and perhaps even an ocean. Above: A CG shot of Mars' hypothetical ancient ocean. Courtesy of ESAThat makes it a fascinating comparison with Earth, and raises the distinct possibility that some form of simple life might have taken hold there -  a perhaps left behind chemical or fossil traces we could detect. Even today some tiny traces of liquid water survive ...

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