A joint European-Russian mission aiming to search for traces of life on Mars blasted off on Monday for the start of a seven-month unmanned space journey to the Red Planet.
A Proton rocket carrying the Trace Gas Orbiter to examine Mars's atmosphere and a descent module that will conduct a test landing on its surface launched into an overcast sky at the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe at 0931 GMT.
The spacecraft is set to detach from its Briz-M rocket booster just after 2000 GMT before beginning its 496-million-kilometre (308-million-mile) voyage through the cosmos.
The ExoMars 2016 mission, a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian equivalent Roscosmos, is the first part of a two-phase exploration aiming to answer questions about the existence of life on Earth's neighbour.
The Trace Gas Orbiter will examine methane around Mars while a lander dubbed Schiaparelli that will detach and descend to the surface of the fourth planet from the Sun.
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