HUMANS have a "50/50" chance of finding life on Mars within the next three years, it is claimed.
Brit scientists leading trials for a new ExoMars robot believe plans to excavate below the Red Planet's surface dramatically improve the odds.
Dr Susanne Schwenzer, the group's astrobiologist, told The Daily Telegraph: "We have a very good chance - we are going to a very, very interesting spot."
However, she warned that to find evidence of life was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
She added: "We would be of course thrilled if we found DNA - that’s the proof. But that assumes that life on Mars is exactly like life is on Earth, which we don’t know.
"If we find life that’s exactly like Earth, we could all be Martians, which is a huge thing in itself.
"If life is different from what we have on Earth, that means life can come about very often.
"Which means there could be other places in our solar system - icy moons, Europa with an ocean underneath, for example - where we also could have life.
"It may not be intelligent, but once you have microbial life that’s the hard step. Evolution then runs its course."
The ExoMars robot is set to be fitted with a tw0-metre drill and state-of-the-art lasers.
The European Space Agency mission control will attempt to position the rover towards the edge of regoliths and bedrock to get the best samples.
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