Is there life on Mars, and will it like being photographed?
A British-built rover is set to look for signs of life on the Red Planet, with the help of an alien-hunting camera, the UK Telegraph reported Monday.
The European Space Agency’s ExoMars vehicle is set to land on March 19, 2021, and will begin scouring the Martian surface for signs of extraterrestrials about 10 days later — with a “Pan-Cam,” designed by researchers at University College London.
Strapped to the top of the rover, the “Pan-Cam” system will use special filters to scan the planet’s surface for minerals that would prove there was once liquid capable of sustaining organisms on Mars.
If a watery location is discovered, the machine will travel to the spot and drill six-and-a-half feet down to take samples.
Bits of the Martian rocks will then be fed through a gap in the rover to a mobile lab, where they’ll be crushed up and tested for organic matter.
Any proof of life or past life could come within months of the rover landing.
“Mars was once covered in water just like the Earth,” said Mary Carter, Pan-Cam project manager at UCL. “At the same time, life was developing on Earth [so] potentially life could have been developing on Mars.”
Engineers at Airbus in Hertfordshire will be installing the “Pan-Cam” system on the rover this week, before it is sent to be tested in Toulouse, France, later this month.