Two robotic spacecraft have begun a seven-month journey to Mars as part of a European-Russian unmanned space mission to find signs of life on the red planet.
The March 14 launch from the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan used a Russian-built Proton carrier rocket to send the ExoMars spacecraft beyond the Earth's atmosphere.
The spacecraft, carrying a satellite and a landing module, is scheduled to reach Mars in mid-October.
The satellite, Trace Gas Orbiter, will analyze Mars' atmosphere for traces of methane and other gases that could provide evidence of life.
The Schiaparelli landing module will test capabilities for safely landing a second unmanned mission on the planet.
The second mission, scheduled to blast off in 2018, should bring a rover robot to study the planet's soil.
Based on reporting by AP and dpa