Exploring the atmosphere of Mars with the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission

Series Name Earth Observation Science Seminar
Speaker Dr Manish Patel
Type Lectures & Talks
When 18 Jan 2019, 02:00PM - 03:00PM
Venue Michael Atiyah Building, room 109
Open To University staff and students
For Bookings Contact Neil Humpage, nh58@le.ac.uk, 01162944573

Searching for signs of life beyond the Earth is a one of the primary aims of space exploration. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is a mission to Mars, which seeks to help answer this question. TGO is a joint European-Russian mission to explore the atmosphere of Mars from orbit in unprecedented detail. The mission launched in March 2016, with Mars arrival on 19th October 2016. Investigating trace gases in the atmosphere is the primary purpose of the mission – gases such as methane, water vapour and ozone. Methane is a particularly interesting gas, in that its variable presence in the atmosphere of Mars is not expected; on Earth, the majority of the methane in the terrestrial atmosphere is produced by life. Hence, its presence on Mars opens up a tantalising possibility that this trace gas may be a sign of the presence of (past or present) life on Mars. Beyond methane, we are measuring in unprecedented detail the distribution of water and its isotopologues in the atmosphere, in order to investigate the history of atmospheric loss on Mars.
The Open University co-leads one of the atmospheric composition instruments (called NOMAD). Here, I will present the mission and its background to you, and update you on the latest status of the mission and the results to date from the orbiter.

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