Deal marks new race to Mars

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Europe and Russia have signed a deal for a joint space mission to Mars.

Europe had hoped to work with Nasa on the two-spacecraft mission but turned to the Russians after the American agency pulled out due to budget shortfalls and a change in direction.

The announcement comes amid heightened excitement over the search for life on the Red Planet after scientists said analysis from Nasa’s own rover, Curiosity, showed Mars had all the ingredients for it.

Nasa wants to follow up with a duplicate rover in 2020 and bring samples home for study, but the Russian and European team hope to launch probes in 2016 and 2018 – starting a new space race.