Nature Astronomy (2020),


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.

JGR (2020),


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

JGR (2019)


It has been suggested that dust storms efficiently transport water vapor from the near‐surface to the middle atmosphere on Mars. Knowledge of the water vapor vertical profile during dust storms is important to understand water escape. During Martian Year 34, two dust storms occurred on Mars: a global dust storm (June to mid‐September 2018) and a regional storm (January 2019). Here we present water vapor vertical profiles in the periods of the two dust storms (Ls = 162–260° and Ls = 298–345°) from the solar occultation measurements by Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery (NOMAD) onboard ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). We show a significant increase of water vapor abundance in the middle atmosphere (40–100 km) during the global dust storm. The water enhancement rapidly occurs following the onset of the storm (Ls~190°) and has a peak at the most active period (Ls~200°). Water vapor reaches very high altitudes (up to 100 km) with a volume mixing ratio of ~50 ppm. The water vapor abundance in the middle atmosphere shows high values consistently at 60°S‐60°N at the growth phase of the dust storm (Ls = 195°–220°), and peaks at latitudes greater than 60°S at the decay phase (Ls = 220°–260°). This is explained by the seasonal change of meridional circulation: from equinoctial Hadley circulation (two cells) to the solstitial one (a single pole‐to‐pole cell). We also find a conspicuous increase of water vapor density in the middle atmosphere at the period of the regional dust storm (Ls = 322–327°), in particular at latitudes greater than 60°S.

Icarus (2020),


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). 


Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology (2019),


Laszlo Hetey, Eddy Neefs, Ian Thomas, Joe Zender, Ann-Carine Vandaele, Sophie Berkenbosch, Bojan Ristic, Sabrina Bonnewijn, Sofie Delanoye, Mark Leese, Jon Mason, Manish Patel


This paper aims to describe the development of a knowledge management system (KMS) for the Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery (NOMAD) instrument on board the ESA/Roscosmos 2016 ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) spacecraft. The KMS collects knowledge acquired during the engineering process that involved over 30 project partners. In addition to the documentation and technical data (explicit knowledge), a dedicated effort was made to collect the gained experience (tacit knowledge) that is crucial for the operational phase of the TGO mission and also for future projects. The system is now in service and provides valuable information for the scientists and engineers working with NOMAD.