Rome, October 19 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Wednesday hailed the Italy-led ExoMars mission to Mars as "a symbol" of a vision for the future that the European Union should make its own. "Europe lands on Mars with an Italian-led mission. Trepidation and pride #schiaparelli," Renzi tweeted in reference to the name of the lander scheduled to enter the Mars atmosphere at 16:42 Italian time for a six-minute descent onto the planet's surface. The European Union must grasp its own future or lose its strength, the young reformist premier told students at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. "Where is the future of the EU? In the next 10 minutes, the Schiaparelli lander will be the first European mission on Mars - a mission led by Italy (and) the symbol of a vision for the future," he said. The European Space Agency (ESA) ExoMars mission and its Schiaparelli probe will try to discern whether life has ever existed on what is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in our solar system. after Mercury. Italy is the largest contributor in the mission, a joint effort between the ESA and Russian space agency Roscosmos. The Schiaparelli lander was designed and built by the Italian company Thales Alenia Space Italia, a division of aerospace and defence firm Thales-Leonardo Finmeccanica.
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