18 Feb 2021
NASA's latest and most complex mission to the Red Planet has touched down at Jezero Crater. Now it's time to begin testing the health of the rover.
ESA Trace Gas Orbitor will be providing assistance as a data relay for the lander.
The full NASA press release can be found here.
A major quest in Mars exploration is hunting for atmospheric gases linked to biological or geological activity, as well as understanding the past and present water inventory of the planet, to determine if Mars could ever have been habitable and if any water reservoirs could be accessible for future human exploration. Two new results from the ExoMars team published today in Science Advances unveil an entirely new class of chemistry and provide further insights into seasonal changes and surface-atmosphere interactions as driving forces behind the new observations.
As well as new gases, the Trace Gas Orbiter is refining our understanding of how Mars lost its water – a process which is also linked to seasonal changes. Liquid water is once thought to have flowed across the surface of Mars as evidenced in the numerous examples of ancient dried out valleys and river channels. Today, it is mostly locked up in the ice caps and buried underground. Mars is still leaking water today, in the form of hydrogen and oxygen escaping from the atmosphere. Understanding the interplay of potential water-bearing reservoirs and their seasonal and long-term behavior is key to understanding the evolution of the climate of Mars. This can be done through the study of water vapour and ‘semi-heavy’ water (where one hydrogen atom is replaced by a deuterium atom, a form of hydrogen with an additional neutron).
The full press release on the ESA website can be found here.
In addition, two article were recently publishes:
ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has detected glowing green oxygen in Mars’ atmosphere – the first time that this emission has been seen around a planet other than Earth. “One of the brightest emissions seen on Earth stems from night glow. More specifically, from oxygen atoms emitting a particular wavelength of light that has never been seen around another planet,” says Jean-Claude Gérard of the Université de Liège, Belgium, and lead author of the new study published in Nature Astronomy. “However, this emission has been predicted to exist at Mars for around 40 years – and, thanks to TGO, we’ve found it.”
The full ESA press briefing can be found here: http://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Exploration/ExoMars/ExoMars_spots_unique_green_glow_at_the_Red_Planet
Coverage in French-speaking media:
RTBF (Johanne Montay) : https://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_decouverte-une-lueur-verte-unique-sur-mars?id=10522535
Vivreici.be (Johanne Montay): http://www.vivreici.be/article/detail_decouverte-une-lueur-verte-unique-sur-mars?id=431372
Coverage in Dutch-speaking media:
Uitgebreid interview in De Wereld Vandaag op Radio 1: https://radio1.be/programma/de-wereld-vandaag/radioitem/belgische-onderzoekers-zien-groene-gloed-rond-mars-na-40-jaar-eindelijk-gevonden/21196
Coverage in Spanish-speaking media:
In El Pais, the largest newspaper in Spain (and part of South America): https://elpais.com/ciencia/2020-06-24/descubierto-un-rastro-nunca-visto-del-oxigeno-en-marte.html
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