Joint Europe-Russia mission leaves Earth orbit bound for Mars
A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the ExoMars 2016 spacecraft blasts off from the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome on March 14, 2016. (AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

A joint European-Russian mission aiming to search for traces of life on Mars left Earth's orbit bound for the Red Planet on Monday, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

A Proton rocket carrying the Trace Gas Orbiter to examine Mars's atmosphere and a descent module that will conduct a test landing on its surface had earlier launched from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe.