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ExoMars Devices Will Explore Martian Atmosphere and Climate from Spring 2018
January 18, 2018 14:19

Orbital module will be at an altitude of 400 km above the surface of the planet Mars.
The TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) orbital module of the ExoMars mission with two Russian devices on board will begin scientific research, including the study of the atmosphere and climate of Mars, in the spring of 2018. This was reported on Tuesday by the press service of Roscosmos.
"TGO is now continuing the atmospheric braking maneuver until the target orbit is reached. Observations in the framework of the TGO scientific program should begin in the spring of 2018, when the craft reaches the assigned altitude of the working orbit (400 km),” - the report said.
There are four scientific devices on the apparatus. One of them is the Russian neutron detector FREND (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector), intended for mapping neutron fluxes from the surface of Mars with high spatial resolution. These fluxes will make it possible to assess the hydrogen content in the soil layer with the depth of up to one meter. The second device is the ACS (Atmospheric Chemistry Suite) spectrometer complex, designed to search for methane in the atmosphere of Mars.
Two European devices onboard are the stereo camera CaSSIS (Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System), and the spectrometer complex NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery).
Studies of the atmosphere and climate of Mars are the main scientific tasks of the mission "ExoMars". The scientists hope to solve them using the Russian devices ACS (Atmospheric Chemistry Suite) and FREND (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector) installed on board of the TGO module.
The FREND will help to explore the atmosphere of the planet, including the search for methane (a likely indicator of biological activity) and the study of its distribution across the planet. The ACS should help to establish if there is active volcanism on Mars now, what the climate on the planet is like, and how it has changed.
In 2018, the neutron spectrometer FREND will start observing neutron fluxes from the surface of the planet, which can indicate water in the surface layer. The data concerning the presence of methane and the observation of neutron fluxes may help to answer the question if there was ever life on Mars or not. FREND will also help assess the radiation background in orbit, including that during solar flares, which is important for future manned expeditions.

Mission of ExoMars
The first stage of the joint project of Roscosmos and Euro ExoMars was launched in 2016. On March 14, the Proton-M launch vehicle with the TGO and the landing module Schiaparelli was successfully launched from the Baikonur Spaceport. In October 2016, the TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) orbit module of the ExoMars mission went into orbit around Mars. The main task of TGO is searching the impurities of methane and other gases in the atmosphere of Mars, which may indicate the expected biological and geological activity on the planet. In addition, the module with its equipment that enables explorers to “peep” into the Martian soil at one meter depth, will study the distribution of water ice in the ground of the planet.
The descent vehicle Schiaparelli, which arrived in Mars in conjunction with TGO in 2016, failed to successfully make a soft landing and crashed. It was designed to work out the technology for entering the atmosphere, descending and landing on the surface of Mars before the launch of the second phase of the ExoMars mission in 2020. At this stage, it is planned to send a Russian landing platform and a European rover to Mars. The key tasks at this stage will be drilling and analysis of the Martian soil.

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: ExoMars Mars Space Exploration   

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