A “methane sniffer” has been sent to Mars. It is called the European/Russian Trace Gas Orbiter and will be used to map and detect methane on the planet. The idea of methane being on Mars was sparked in 2004 when a European space agency was circling the planet. No further testing could be done on Earth to give conclusive proof to scientists so they must go to the planet itself. They are looking to see if the gas is produced by a geological process or by microbes. Their largest goal is to be able to extract methane from Mars.
A second experimental lander is being sent off with the TGO called “Schiaparelli”. It will test landing technologies and be able to drill two meters below the surface to detect signs of life. This would be a huge breakthrough and very fascinating to hear about. Very exciting things to come for Mars!