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ExoMars Finds New Gas Signatures in the Martian Atmosphere

27 Jul 2020, 16:32 UTC
ExoMars Finds New Gas Signatures in the Martian Atmosphere
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Artist’s impression of the ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter at Mars. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has spotted new gas signatures at Mars. These unlock new secrets about the martian atmosphere, and will enable a more accurate determination of whether there is methane, a gas associated with biological or geological activity, at the planet.

The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) has been studying the Red Planet from orbit for over two years. The mission aims to understand the mixture of gases that make up the martian atmosphere, with a special focus on the mystery surrounding the presence of methane there.

Meanwhile, the spacecraft has now spotted never-before-seen signatures of ozone (O3) and carbon dioxide (CO2), based on a full martian year of observations by its sensitive Atmospheric Chemistry Suite (ACS). The findings are reported in two new papers published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, one led by Kevin Olsen of the University of Oxford, UK and another led by Alexander Trokhimovskiy of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia.

“These features are both puzzling and surprising,” says Kevin.

“They lie over the exact wavelength range where we expected to ...

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