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Two for Mars?
ExoMars, a joint project of the European and Russian space agencies, appears to have achieved mixed results at Mars. Trace Gas Orbiter (at right in this artist's concept) successfully entered orbit on October 19, and will spend a year refining its orbit before beginning full science operations. It is designed to sniff out traces of methane and other gases that could have a biological origin. Engineers lost contact with the other half of the mission, the Schiaparelli lander (at left, shown shortly after separation from the orbiter), moments before its scheduled landing. The lander is a technology demonstrator for a future Mars rover. If ground controllers can regain contact, it is scheduled to operate for only a few days before its batteries die. [ESA/ATG Medialab]