Dr Lewis Dartnell
Dr Lewis Dartnell, of the UK Space Agency, said: “The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter will hopefully see where the whiffs of methane gas are seeping into the martian atmosphere – as this could be a sign of life deep underground.
“Then in 2018, the ESA will launch the ExoMars Rover, which will land on Mars to explore for signs of life.
“For the first time ever, this Mars rover will have a drill – 2m long – to get underground to where the soil has been protected.”
Dr Dartnell – who is busy designing laser eyes for the space bot – hopes Europe traces the aliens two years before NASA’s own alien hunter arrives on Mars in 2020.
The research fellow – of Leicester University – said: “Perhaps there is life on Mars still alive near the surface today – which we may detect in the next few years.”