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.

BELSPO, the Belgian federal science policy office, has created a virtual expo describing the long journey of NOMAD from first concept to current mission around Mars.

The expo is available in french by clicking here, or in dutch by clicking here.

nomad expo

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.”


Artist's impression of the ExoMars Trace Gas orbiter spotting daylight green oxygen at Mars

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:

Le Soir (Laetitia Theunis) : https://www.lesoir.be/307409/article/2020-06-15/un-instrument-belge-detecte-pour-la-premiere-fois-une-lueur-verte-sur-mars

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

Métro : https://fr.metrotime.be/2020/06/15/must-read/linstrument-belge-de-mesure-nomad-a-detecte-une-lueur-verte-sur-mars/

LeVif : https://www.levif.be/actualite/sciences/une-lueur-verte-detectee-sur-mars-par-l-instrument-belge-de-mesure-nomad/article-news-1300093.html

7sur7 : https://www.7sur7.be/sciences/une-lueur-verte-detectee-sur-mars-par-un-instrument-de-mesure-belge~ab4bdee3/

Rtl.be : https://www.rtl.be/info/monde/international/l-instrument-belge-de-mesure-nomad-a-detecte-une-lueur-verte-sur-mars-1225145.aspx

DH.net : https://www.dhnet.be/actu/societe/une-lueur-verte-detectee-sur-mars-par-l-instrument-belge-de-mesure-nomad-5ee793d87b50a66a59788c3b

La Province : https://www.laprovince.be/581900/article/2020-06-15/linstrument-belge-de-mesure-nomad-detecte-une-lueur-verte-sur-mars


Coverage in Dutch-speaking media:

Een webartikel: https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2020/06/15/belgische-wetenschappers-detecteren-groene-gloed-rond-mars/

Radio Nieuws: https://radioplus.be/#/radio1/herbeluister/a1853047-8e68-11e3-b45a-00163edf75b7/f162209e-af22-11ea-bd09-02b7b76bf47f/

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


Nieuws Blad:https://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20200615_04991522


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