The US and European space agencies are about to begin an audacious effort to bring samples of Martian rock and soil back to Earth. It will involve two robotic rovers to collect the best specimens, and an elaborate delivery system to get this material home.
Scientists hope to then learn more about whether life has ever existed on the Red Planet by studying the samples using techniques that are only available in Earth laboratories.
Illustrations by Gerry Fletcher
Produced by: Jonathan Amos, Tom Housden, Shilpa Saraf and Evisa Terziu