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I've heard that we have a great shot at finding life on Mars if we just drill deep enough down to the surface to the water and detect if its sterile or not. Are there planned missions to do this? If not, what is the next (or existing) mission where finding life is likely? Is it launching something to Mars, Europa, Titan, or some other moon? Why does the mission have a good shot at finding life?

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    $\begingroup$ I cannot find any reference to InSight being used for this purpose, though it seems a good candidate. The ExoMars rover will do some shallow digging for this purpose. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Jun 30 '15 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ Europa's much harder. Not just further away but it's also in Jupiter's van Allen belt which is full of radiation. Titan is possible but the launch date appears to be after 2020. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_Saturn_System_Mission $\endgroup$
    – userLTK
    Jul 1 '15 at 7:17
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about spacecraft. Consider Space Exploration Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Dec 16 '15 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 It's about specifically finding life on missions or other means. I really don't see why thats off topic for Astronomy. $\endgroup$
    – bogen
    Dec 17 '15 at 11:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Haaakon The community seems to agree that the way it is currently phrased is more on topic on Space Exploration. If you want answers here, I suggest to revise to shift focus from exploratory missions (e.g. orbiters, landers) to long-distance observations (e.g. spectral analysis of atmospheres). This question is too old to migrate to Space Exploration. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Dec 17 '15 at 15:31
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The Exomars rover of ESA and Roscosmos would be the obvious answer. To be launched in 2018. It will drill 2 meters deep and as far I know is the only mission since the Vikings in the 1970's, to explicitly be equipped to find biosignatures, signs of life. But the Russians, who will land the rover, have had a very poor Mars mission success rate, ESA cooperates with them since NASA abandoned the project a few years ago, and ESA's only own landing attempt on Mars failed too, Beagle 2. And some biologists think it is more challenging to detect sparse exotic microbial life than what that rover is capable of. It weights about 1/3 of MSL Curiosity, and underground life can maybe be very local.

I want to recommend the blogger Robert Walker who writes at great length and well informed, still interestingly speculative, about possibilities for life on Mars, what one maybe should be looking for.

I should add that since 1960 SETI uses telescopes to pick up evidence of interstellar life which is powerful enough to somehow change its environment to make itself astronomically detectable. That's the other main potential except for probes in the Solar system. But not even SETI people sit up waiting for it any more.

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I think it would be The Europa Jupiter System Mission – Laplace (EJSM/Laplace) was a proposed joint NASA/ESA unmanned space mission slated to launch around 2020 for the in-depth exploration of Jupiter's moons.

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In 2026 or thereabouts it is entirely possible that the Square Kilometre Array could pick up radio communications, at the level at which we leak stuff into space, from any intelligent civilisations that are within around 150 light years - see the last paragraph of my answer to how far away could we detect that Earth has life?

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