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UK robot 'to pave way for humans to explore Mars'

By Philip Whiteside, news reporter
Work has started in Britain on building on a robot vehicle that will be sent to look for life on Mars.
The European Space Agency's Mars rover is being constructed in Stevenage with the aim of exploring the Martian surface in 2021.It has a drill to probe up to two metres under the surface of Mars and has instruments on board that can examine the samples it finds.The 300kg robot vehicle is capable of travelling 2cm a second for at least 90 days, but scientists hope it will remain active for as long as the latest American rover Curiosity, which landed in August 2012 and is still exploring.
UK robot 'to pave way for humans to explore Mars'

Image:
An artist's impression of the ExoMars rover on the Red Planet's surface. Pic: ESA

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Liz Seward, senior strategist at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, said it was a first for the European space project."It's part of a big plan called the global expedition road map," she said."We've got robot expeditions going to the moon and Mars and the plan is to do humans to the moon next and Mars after that in 2030.
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Image:
Airbus built an environment that mimics the surface of Mars to challenge the rover
"What's really exciting is that this week we will be sending part of the Orion spacecraft to America, which is the European contribution to people going to the Moon, in the next few years."The Orion spacecraft is a European-American joint venture which is designed ultimately to take humans to the Moon, Mars and other destinations in the solar system.Airbus, which bases its space systems division in Stevenage, is responsible for building Orion's service module and the ExoMars rover project.
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