The mission will drill 30 times deeper beneath the surface ofMars than the currently operating Curiosity rover.Russia will supply the mission with two Proton-M rocketcarriers, and facilitate launches from the Baikonur site inKazakhstan. Russian scientists are also engaged in creatingscientific instruments for the mission, including a landingplatform for the rover.The first stage of the mission will involve sending a Trace GasOrbiter (TGO) to Mars in 2016 to analyze gas in the planet’satmosphere; scientists are hoping to find regions rich in methane,which could signal the existence of life on Mars, though it mayalso be produced by geochemical activity. The Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) willalso be sent to Mars in 2016. EDM is a device with no other purposeexcept testing the landing process, as ESA has never sent a roverto Mars.The second stage of the ExoMars mission involves landing a roveron the planet’s surface in 2018: “It is lighter than Curiosity,but very interesting. The rover is made by ESA and contains adrilling device, able to go two meters deep into the Martianground,” said Lev Zelyony, director of the Institute of SpaceResearch of the Russian Science Academy, according to Voice ofRussia.In February, Curiosity drilled a hole about 7 centimeters deepin the Martian surface.The US had initially planned to be Europe’s partner in theExoMars mission. However, NASA withdrew from the project in 2011after failing to secure enough funding.The EU has already spent more than 400 million euro onExoMars.Russia was initially asked to provide the rocket carriers, butMoscow said it would only participate in the project as equalpartner; the two parties have been negotiating the deal since 2011.Russian scientists quickly secured some of the funding fromRoscosmos, and have already begun work on research devices for TGO.The Thursday agreement was required for Russia to provide furtherfinancing for the project.