On Friday, NASA announced it would be sending a new space telescope to Mars in the 2020s to help scientists find signs of life on the Red Planet.
The spacecraft, called ExoMars 2020, will fly by Mars in 2021 and then return to Earth in 2022.
“ExoMars is a huge undertaking,” said Scott Bolton, the deputy director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency.
“It is a very ambitious mission, with very high expectations.”
The ExoMart mission is a joint effort between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.
It is scheduled to launch on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover in 2021.
NASA is expecting to return a few samples of Martian soil from the rover.
It’s unclear when or how the samples will be returned to Earth.
ExoMare 2020 will use a suite of instruments designed to study the Martian atmosphere, including high-resolution spectrometers, infrared spectrometer and the ability to study chemical compounds in the Martian surface.
Exosat, which NASA launched in 2006, will also be used for that mission.
ExOSat is an antenna mounted on a spacecraft orbiting Mars that will study the composition of the Martian soil.
NASA has said that the telescope’s high resolution is critical to helping scientists better understand the processes that control the chemical composition of Mars.