NOMAD is one of four scientific instruments that are currently orbiting Mars, onboard a satellite called the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. The satellite was launched in March 2016 and arrived at Mars after a six month journey. When first reaching Mars, the orbit of the satellite was not useful for conducting scientific investigations, and so the next eighteen months were spent in a period known as "aerobraking". This is when the satellite passes so close to the planet that it enters into the top of the Martian atmosphere, which causes it to slow down a tiny fraction. This is repeated on every orbit, until the distance between the satellite and the planet's surface is much better, after which the thrusters onboard the satellite are fired to put the Trace Gas Orbiter into the perfect orbit to conduct science. This was achieved in March 2018, and after a short period of testing the real science mission began on 21st April 2018.
SInce then, NOMAD has observed the atmosphere and the surface of Mars millions of times, and made lots of very interesting scientific discoveries - and will continue to do so for many years to come. The NOMAD instrument is actually made up of three separate spectrometers which measure in different ways and at different wavelengths, which allow it to measure the concentrations of many gases in the Martian atmosphere, to detect clouds and ice on the surface of Mars, and to search for new molecules that have never been detected. The NOMAD team comprises many scientists from all over the world, lead by the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (IASB-BIRA), just south of Brussels in Belgium. Please feel free to take a look around the website - here you can discover more about what NOMAD measures, what scientific papers we have published so far, and how the data returned from the satellite is converted into useable information for scientists to analyse. Note that the website is mainly designed to provide information to the team, and so there may be some areas that are very technical!
To learn more about the Trace Gas Orbiter, click here
To learn more about NOMAD, click here
NOMAD being lifted by a crane, ready to mount onto the Trace Gas Orbiter satellite.