Icarus (2020) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114266

Elise W. Knutsen, Geronimo L. Villanueva, Giuliano Liuzzi, Matteo M.J. Crismani, Michael J. Mumma, Michael D. Smith, Ann Carine Vandaele, Shohei Aoki, Ian R. Thomas, Frank Daerden, Sébastien Viscardy, Justin T. Erwin, Loic Trompet, Lori Neary, Bojan Ristic, Miguel Angel Lopez-Valverde, Jose Juan Lopez-Moreno, Manish R. Patel, Giancarlo Bellucci


Methane (CH4) on Mars has attracted a great deal of attention since it was first detected in January 2003. As methane is considered a potential marker for past/present biological or geological activity, any possible detection would require evidence with strong statistical significance. Ethane (C2H6) and ethylene (C2H4) are also relevant chemical species as their shorter lifetimes in the Martian atmosphere make them excellent tracers for recent and ongoing releases. If detected, a CH4/C2Hn ratio could aid in constraining the potential source of organic production. Here we present the results of an extensive search for hydrocarbons in the Martian atmosphere in 240,000 solar occultation measurements performed by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter/NOMAD instrument from April 2018 to April 2019. The observations are global, covering all longitudes and latitudes from 85°N to 85°S, and sampled from 6 to 100 km altitude with a typical vertical resolution of 2 km. There were no statistically significant detections of organics and new stringent upper limits for global ethane and ethylene were set at 0.1 ppbv and 0.7 ppbv, respectively. No global background level of methane was observed, obtaining an upper limit of 0.06 ppbv, in agreement with early results from ExoMars (Korablev et al., 2019). Dedicated searches for localized plumes at more than 2000 locations provided no positive detections, implying that if methane were released in strong and rapid events, the process would have to be sporadic.


ch4 elise



JQSRT (2021), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jqsrt.2020.107361.

Frédéric Schmidt, Guillaume Cruz Mermy, Justin Erwin, Séverine Robert, Lori Neary, Ian R. Thomas, Frank Daerden, Bojan Ristic, Manish R. Patel, Giancarlo Bellucci, Jose-Juan Lopez-Moreno, Ann-Carine Vandaele


One of the main difficulties to analyze modern spectroscopic datasets is due to the large amount of data. For example, in atmospheric transmittance spectroscopy, the solar occultation channel (SO) of the NOMAD instrument onboard the ESA ExoMars2016 satellite called Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) had produced ~ 10 millions of spectra in ~ 20000 acquisition sequences since the beginning of the mission in April 2018 until 15 January 2020. Other datasets are even larger with ~ billions of spectra for OMEGA onboard Mars Express or CRISM onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Usually, new lines are discovered after a long iterative process of model fitting and manual residual analysis. Here we propose a new method based on unsupervised machine learning, to automatically detect new minor species. Although precise quantification is out of scope, this tool can also be used to quickly summarize the dataset, by giving few endmembers (”source”) and their abundances.

The methodology is the following: we proposed a way to approximate the dataset non-linearity by a linear mixture of abundance and source spectra (endmembers). We used unsupervised source separation in form of non-negative matrix factorization to estimate those quantities. Several methods are tested on synthetic and simulation data. Our approach is dedicated to detect minor species spectra rather than precisely quantifying them. On synthetic example, this approach is able to detect chemical compounds present in form of 100 hidden spectra out of 104, at 1.5 times the noise level. Results on simulated spectra of NOMAD-SO targeting CH4 show that detection limits goes in the range of 100–500 ppt in favorable conditions. Results on real martian data from NOMAD-SO show that CO2 and H2O are present, as expected, but CH4 is absent. Nevertheless, we confirm a set of new unexpected lines in the database, attributed by ACS instrument Team to the CO2 magnetic dipole.

JGR (2020), doi.org/10.1029/2019JE006250https://orfeo.kbr.be/handle/internal/7502


Liuzzi, G.; Villanueva, G.L.; Crismani, M.M.J.; Smith, M.D.; Mumma, M.J.; Daerden, F.; Aoki, S.; Vandaele, A.C.; Clancy, R.T.; Erwin, J.; Thomas, I.; Ristic, B.; Lopez-Moreno, J.-J.; Bellucci, G.; Patel, M.R.


Observations of water ice clouds and aerosols on Mars can provide important insights into the complexity of the water cycle. Recent observations have indicated an important link between dust activity and the water cycle, as intense dust activity can significantly raise the hygropause, and subsequently increase the escape of water after dissociation in the upper atmosphere. Here present observations from Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery/Trace Gas Orbiter that investigate the variation of water ice clouds in the perihelion season of Mars year 34 (April 2018–2019), their diurnal and seasonal behavior, and the vertical structure and microphysical properties of water ice and dust. These observations reveal the recurrent presence of a layer of mesospheric water ice clouds subsequent to the 2018 global dust storm. We show that this layer rose from 45 to 80 km in altitude on a time scale of days from heating in the lower atmosphere due to the storm. In addition, we demonstrate that there is a strong dawn‐dusk asymmetry in water ice abundance, related to nighttime nucleation and subsequent daytime sublimation. Water ice particle sizes are retrieved consistently and exhibit sharp vertical gradients (from 0.1 to 4.0 μm), as well as mesospheric differences between the global dust storm (<0.5 μm) and the 2019 regional dust storm (1.0 μm), which suggests differing water ice nucleation efficiencies. These results form the basis to advance our understanding of mesospheric water ice clouds on Mars, and further constrain the interactions between water ice and dust in the middle atmosphere.


Figure 05

Nature Astronomy (2020), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1123-2,  https://orfeo.kbr.be/handle/internal/7550


Gérard, J.-C.,; Aoki, S.; Willame, Y.; Gkouvelis, L.; Depiesse, C.; Thomas, I.R. | Ristic, B.; Vandaele, A.C.; Daerden, F.; Hubert, B.; Mason, J.; Patel, M.R.; López-Moreno, J.-J.; Bellucci, G.; López-Valverde, M.A.; Beeckman, B. 


The oxygen emission at 557.7 nm is a ubiquitous component of the spectrum of the terrestrial polar aurora and the reason for its usual green colour. It is also observed as a thin layer of glow surrounding the Earth near 90 km altitude in the dayside atmosphere but it has so far eluded detection in other planets. Here we report dayglow observations of the green line outside the Earth. They have been performed with the Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery ultraviolet and visible spectrometer instrument on board the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Using a special observation mode, scans of the dayside limb provide the altitude distribution of the intensity of the 557.7 nm line and its variability. Two intensity peaks are observed near 80 and 120 km altitude, corresponding to photodissociation of CO2 by solar Lyman alpha and extreme ultraviolet radiation, respectively. A weaker emission, originating from the same upper level of the oxygen atom, is observed in the near ultraviolet at 297.2 nm.These simultaneous measurements of both oxygen lines make it possible to directly derive a ratio of 16.5 between the visible and ultraviolet emissions, and thereby clarify a controversy between discordant ab initio calculations and atmospheric measurements that has persisted despite multiple efforts.This ratio is considered a standard for measurements connecting the ultraviolet and visible spectral regions. This result has consequences for the study of auroral and airglow processes and for spectral calibration.


green line

Icarus (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113707https://arxiv.org/abs/2003.02184


A. Cardesin-Moinelo, B. Geiger, G. Lacombe, B. Ristic, M. Costa, D. Titov, H. Svedhem, J. Marin-Yaseli, D. Merritt, P. Martin, M.A. Lopez-Valverde


Two spacecraft launched and operated by the European Space Agency are currently performing observations in Mars orbit. For >15 years Mars Express has been conducting global surveys of the surface, the atmosphere and the plasma environment of the Red Planet. The Trace Gas Orbiter, the first element of the ExoMars programme, began its science phase in 2018 focusing on investigations of the atmospheric composition with unprecedented sensitivity as well as surface and subsurface studies. The coordination of observation programmes of both spacecraft aims at cross calibration of the instruments and exploitation of new opportunities provided by the presence of two spacecraft whose science operations are performed by two closely collaborating teams at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC). 

 alex joint ops