After a seven-month-long journey, a joint European-Russian Mars lander separates from its mothership and heads toward the red planet's surface. Diane Hodges reports.
Celebration at the operations center of the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany, after their Mars lander successfully separated from its mothership. The lander is now headed to the surface of the red planet, part of the ExoMars European-Russian joint mission to search for signs of life on the planet -- past or present. The mothership has an atmospheric probe to study trace gases, such as methane, around the planet. The lander itself reaches Mars on Wednesday and will test technologies for Europe's first-ever Mars rover for a few days before it dies. But it'll be 2020 before the mission's second stage actually lands a rover on Mars. That rover will move across the surface and drill into the ground to collect and analyze samples for scientists on earth to study 35 million miles away.