Robot that will search for Life on Mars is complete

The Mars rover has been built at Airbus in Stevenage Credit: PA

You can watch Elodie Harper's piece about the Mars rover here.

An Airbus worker inspects the ExoMars rover Credit: PA Images

Work on a robot that will search for life on Mars has been completed by workers at Airbus in Stevenage.

The assembly of the ExoMars rover is finished ahead of its proposedblast-off date next year.

However, the European Space Agency's (ESA) ExoMars mission to the Red Planet could hang in the balance, as successful tests on the rover's parachutes are yet to be conducted.

They'll be put through their paces in the US state of Oregon in November, but if tests aren't successful, the July 2020 launch date could be in jeopardy.

Named after the British DNA pioneer Franklin, the six-wheeled robot will search for life on Mars. It is equipped with a two-metre drill to take samples from below the surface where they will have been protected from the harsh radiation environment.

The vehicle features nine instruments which will help scientists conduct astep-by-step exploration of the Red Planet, from a panoramic scale andprogressively converging to smaller (sub-millimetre) studies, concluding withthe molecular identification of organic compounds.

The rover will explore the surface of Mars Credit: Airbus

The rover is also equipped with an autonomous navigation system, developed by Airbus, which will enable it to travel between sites of interest much more quickly than by being driven remotely in real time from Earth.

The rover goes to Airbus Toulouse next for tests. It will then make its way to Thales Alenia Space In Cannes, before its launch from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, scheduled for July 2020.

The Rosalind Franklin is due to land on Mars on March 19 2021 after anine-month trip.

ExoMars is a European Space Agency programme in cooperation with the Russian space agency Roscosmos and the contribution of Nasa.