After Earth, Mars is the most earth like planet in the Solar System.
It’s in something called the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ – that means its close enough to the Sun to be able to sustain life – not too hot that any life is just blasted away or too cold that there’s not enough energy for lifeforms to survive.
To help sustain life as we know it, you need two key things – water and methane – and both have been found on Mars.
Scientists have found patterns in the rock and dark stripes across the land that suggest there were once rivers on Mars. Maybe that water is still there – under the surface of the planet.
The Mars atmosphere also has methane, and that’s a gas that can be a sign of organic activity.
NASA and the European Space Agency are working together on a project called the Aurora Programme that will send a special robot to Mars called the ExoMars Rover in a special mission to determine if life exists – or ever existed on the red planet.
The ExoMars Rover will probe the planet like never before and provide unprecedented data on the history and composition of this fascinating world.
Whilst the goal is to send human astronauts to Mars, before any human can set foot on Mars, scientists need to know as much as possible about the red planet, like what are the dangers to human explorers and how easy is it to live and work on Mars?
The ExoMars Rover mission will be followed by a further mission in the 2020s, which will provide data for a planned human mission in the 2030s.
The ExoMars Rovers will use the very latest technology – panoramic cameras with enhanced zoom, infrared spectrometers and organic molecule analysers to test samples.
You can hear Deep Space High: Destination Mars on Fun Kids Radio or listen to the series below!