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European Space Agency announces funding

NEWS

The European Space Agency has announced funding of about £400M to build the ExoMars rover that will search for life on the red planet.

The robot is part of ESA's Aurora Space Exploration Programme.

It will carry a 40kg exobiology payload - dubbed Pasteur - and include a lightweight drill capable of penetrating 2m below the Martian surface. There will also be a handling device and suite of scientific instruments to search for signs of past or present life.

The mission will require the development of a Mars orbiter, a descent module and a Mars rover, and is due for launch in 2011.

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