NASA, ESA’s Select Instruments for Joint Mission
[Satellite TODAY 08-02-10] NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) tabbed five science instruments for the first mission joint instrument to Mars, the agencies announced Aug. 2.
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, scheduled to launch in 2016, will study the chemical makeup of the Martian atmosphere, focusing on trace gases, including methane, which could be indicators for the existence of life on Mars. The mission also will serve as an additional communications relay for Mars surface missions beginning in 2018.
The five instruments — the Mars Atmosphere Trace Molecule Occultation Spectrometer, the High Resolution Solar Occultation and Nadir Spectrometer, the ExoMars Climate Sounder, the High Resolution Color Stereo Imager and the Mars Atmospheric Global Imaging Experiment — were selected from 19 proposals submitted in January based on best science value and lowest risk.
The ExoMars Trace Grace Orbiter is the first of three planned joint robotic missions to Mars scheduled to take place between 2016 and 2018 that will lead to a joint Mars sample return mission in the 2020s.