Europe has been in orbit around Mars for more than 15 years and is almost a year away from launching its first rover mission, but ambitions are already running high to go one step further: returning a sample from the Red Planet.
Has there ever been life on Mars? Reconstructing the history of our neighbouring planet and understanding how its evolution diverged from that of Earth is at the heart of Mars exploration missions.
ESA’s first journey on this quest began 16 years ago – on 2 June 2003, with the launch of Mars Express. The orbiter has imaged almost all of the planet’s surface to date and continues to return a wealth of scientific data, including evidence for its wetter past. And where there was water there may have been life… [More at link]