Scientists have spent five decades sending spacecraft to Mars in search of life.

The missions to the Red Planet have successfully discovered the presence of methane on the planet.

Now, Russia and the European Union have launched a new mission to see if methane's presence could show there is life on Mars.

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter to the planet, launched from Kazakhstan on Monday, will use highly sensitive instruments to explore Mars' atmosphere, seeking the presence of methane in particular.

"Methane is a hot topic so trying to understand the origin of the methane as well as when, where and how it is produced on Mars is very important," Jorge Vagio, a European Space Agency project scientist, told Al Jazeera.

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Source: Al Jazeera