Mar 14, 2016 07:28 AM EDT

Russian Rocket To Look For Life On Mars

A joint effort by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, Russia spearheaded the launch of a two-phase project with a goal to probe the existence of life on the Red Planet. The project will explore both the atmosphere and the terrain of planet Mars.

Daniel Hawkins posted via Twitter a photo of the media briefing with regard to today's launch.

The heavy-duty Russian rocket sets off into space via Kazakhstan today, March 14. The Proton rocket carries the Mars probes designed to uncover signs of life, both past and present, on the Red Planet. The first phase of the mission is called the ExoMars 2016, and its costs is estimated at 1.2 billion euros ($A1.77 billion).

An orbiter, according to Sky News, carried the ExoMars 2016 mission, which will "hunt for methane in the Martian atmosphere and show if it is likely to have been generated by geology or biological processes." It is a rocket equipped with a satellite that is capable of delivering the mission in the Martian atmosphere.

The second phase of the mission will set off two years from now. It will be called the ExoMars 2018. This time, British-built rover bristling with cutting-edge technology will make its way towards Mars. The rover will be able to drill deep into the surface and try to search for any indication of life, incluing looking for chemical fingerprints of life.

Dr Peter Grindrod from the University of London says of this mission: "This is a series of missions that's trying to address one of the fundamental questions in science: is there life anywhere else besides the Earth?" Dr. Grindord is a planetary scientist who is funded by the UK Space Agency.

If any sign of life will be found through this mission - even those that existed billions of years ago - then it will be considered to be one of the biggest discoveries of all time.

The launch today happened at the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It launched the satellite on a "six-month journey towards its rendezvous with the Red Planet in October this year."

If successful, exploration of the Moon and Mercury might take place.

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