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Deeper underground: Alien-hunting Mars rover set to drill for signs of life (PHOTO)

Deeper underground: Alien-hunting Mars rover set to drill for signs of life (PHOTO)
The ESA’s new ‘Rosalind’ rover, tasked with seeking out signs of life on Mars, has been fitted with a drill that will delve deeper than any previous mission, to explore “pristine soil” not-yet damaged by radiation.

The rover, named after pioneering British scientist Rosalind Franklin, is nearing completion at the Airbus Defense and Space factory in Britain. It will then be shipped to France for testing ahead of its launch in July 2020, with a scheduled landing on Mars the following spring.

Previous expeditions on the red planet only managed to scrape the rough and barren surface. But scientists believe billions of years ago Mars resembled Earth, with flowing rivers and lakes. However, analysis of the surface shows significant radiation damage may be hiding the planet’s true potential, so samples must be taken from at least one meter below ground to test minerals that may hold signs of past life.


Rosalind, which is part of the Roscosmos and European Space Agency ExoMars program, will land in what scientists believe was once an ocean which became covered over by lava from volcanic eruptions, meaning the site’s underlying material may have only been exposed to the elements relatively recently. 

The rover has just been fitted with a state-of-the-art camera system, PanCam, that will control the rover’s scientific operations and decide where to drive and drill.

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