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.
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02.12.2016 | Penn State
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02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
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