Mars methane mission set for lift-off


Europe and Russia are about to launch a joint mission to the Red Planet.

A Proton rocket is going hurl a satellite to Mars to investigate whether the methane in its atmosphere is coming from a geological source or is being produced by microbes.

If all goes well, the two space powers expect to follow up this venture with a rover, to be assembled in the UK, which will drill into the surface.

That could launch in 2018, or, as seems increasingly likely, in 2020.