— -- A Mars mission launched by the European and Russian space agencies successfully entered the red planet's orbit today, but scientists have lost the signal from a probe that was scheduled to land on the surface.
ExoMars, a joint mission between the European Space Agency and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has the main goal of exploring "whether life has ever existed on Mars," according to the ESA.
The mission launched a trace gas orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli module toward Mars in March of this year, and the TGO began orbiting Mars today. The Schiaparelli module was expected to land on the planet's surface, but contact was lost after it entered the planet's atmosphere, officials said.
Scientists said they hoped to re-establish contact with the module.
The TGO's primary objective is to search for evidence of methane and other atmospheric gases that could indicate whether there was ever — or is — life on Mars, according to the ESA.
Schiaparelli's mission is to land on the planet and "test key technologies" in preparation for future ESA Mars missions.