August 23, 2016


The first mission within the ESA - Roscosmos ExoMars Programme, scheduled to arrive at Mars in October 2016, consists of an Orbiter (TGO: Trace Gas Orbiter) plus an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM).


TGO Satellite and EDM - Credits: ESA-AOES Medialab

The Orbiter and EDM were launched together on a Proton rocket and are flying to Mars in a mated configuration. By taking advantage of a direct interplanetary trajectory to Mars the cruise phase is limited to less than 9 months. Upon arrival at Mars the EDM will be ejected on a hyperbolic entry trajectory towards the Red Planet. A few days later the Orbiter will enter orbit followed by a series of manoeuvres including a period of aerobraking operations to finally settle into a circular, 400-km altitude and 74° inclination orbit ready to conduct its scientific mission.

The selected science instruments on board TGO 2016 satellite are:

  • Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery (NOMAD). A spectrometer suite, covering a wide range of wavelengths (including infrared to ultraviolet), to identify the components of the Martian atmosphere. Principal Investigator: Ann Carine Vandaele, Belgium, CoPIs: José Lopez Moreno, Spain; Giancarlo Bellucci, Italy; Manish Patel, United Kingdom. Participating countries: BE, SP, IT, UK, USA, CA.
  • Atmospheric Chemistry Suite (ACS). This suite of three infrared instruments will help scientists to investigate the chemistry and structure of the Martian atmosphere. ACS will complement NOMAD by extending the coverage at infrared wavelengths, and by taking images of the Sun to better analyse the solar occultation data. Principal Investigator: Oleg Korablev, Space Research Institute (IKI), Russia.
  • Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS). A high resolution camera (5 metres per pixel) capable of obtaining colour and stereo images over a wide swathe. CaSSIS will provide the geological and dynamical context for sources or sinks of trace gases detected by NOMAD and ACS. Principal Investigator: Nicolas Thomas, University of Bern, Switzerland. Participating countries: CH, IT.
  • Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector (FREND). This neutron detector will be used to map the presence of hydrogen on the Martian surface, targeting deposits of near-surface water ice. Principal Investigator: Igor Mitrofanov, Space Research Institute (IKI), Russia.
  • In addition to the Trace Gas Orbiter, the 2016 mission carries Europe's entry, descent and landing demonstration vehicle.