The first spacecraft is the Trace Gas Orbiter, which ESA will build and NASA will launch.
Today, both space agencies issued an Announcement of Opportunity inviting scientists to propose instruments to be carried on the mission. Once all proposals are in, they will be evaluated and the winning teams will be tasked with building the actual hardware.
A Joint Instrument Definition Team has identified a model payload based on current technology, but turning that blueprint into reality is now the job of the scientific community. “We are open to all instrumental proposals so long as they help us achieve our scientific objectives,” says Jorge Vago, ESA ExoMars Project Scientist.
The priority for this mission is to map trace gases in the atmosphere of Mars, distinguishing individual chemical species down to concentrations of just a few parts per billion. Of these gases, one in particular attracts special attention: methane. Discovered on Mars in 2003, it happens to be a possible ‘biomarker’, a gas that is readily produced by biological activity. Understanding whether the methane comes from life or from geological and volcanic processes takes precedence. “The methane is the anchor point around which the science is to be constructed,” says Vago.
Adding to the mystery is that methane was found to be concentrated in just three locations on Mars, and then disappeared much faster from the atmosphere than scientists were expecting. This points to an unknown destruction mechanism much more powerful than any known on Earth. It may also indicate a much faster creation process to have produced such large quantities of the gas in the first place.
Tracing aromatic molecules in the early universe
23.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
New study maps space dust in 3-D
23.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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