Trace Gas Orbiter: First science results

ESA_ExoMars_TGO_solar_occultation_method_1280New evidence of the impact of the recent planet-encompassing dust storm on water in the atmosphere, and a surprising lack of methane, are among the scientific highlights of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter’s first year in orbit.

Two papers [here and here] are published in the journal Nature today describing the new results, and reported in a dedicated press briefing at the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.

A third paper [PDF; in Russian], submitted to the Proceedings of the Russian Academy of Science, presents the most detailed map ever produced of water-ice or hydrated minerals in the shallow subsurface of Mars.

The joint ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, or TGO, arrived at the Red Planet in October 2016, and spent more than one year using the aerobraking technique needed to reach its two-hour science orbit, 400 km above the surface of Mars.

“We are delighted with the first results from the Trace Gas Orbiter,” says HÃ¥kan Svedhem, ESA’s TGO project scientist. “Our instruments are performing extremely well and even within the first few months of observation were already providing exquisite data to a much higher level than previously achieved.”

TGO’s main science mission began at the end of April 2018, just a couple of months before the start of the global dust storm that would eventually lead to the demise of NASA’s Opportunity rover after 15 years roving the martian surface… [More at links]

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