ESA/NASA ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter: A Search for Extant Habitability and Habitancy
When: May 23, 2011 11AM PDT
The ESA/NASA ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter (EMTGO), with a planned launch in 2016, is the first mission selected for flight whose concept can be traced back to the NAI. EMTGO is also the first truly international mission in which NASA is a participant; the contributions from ESA and NASA are closely intertwined.
The primary objective of EMTGO is to characterize the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere, particularly trace species that may be signatures of extant biological and/or geological processes, and its variability in space and time. It is hoped that these measurements, along with a good understanding of the contemporaneous atmospheric state, may allow localization of the surface source(s) of the “exotic” trace gases.
The international science payload selected for this mission has the capability to inventory the atmospheric composition with more sensitivity than has flown on previous deep space planetary missions. One measure of this capability is the ability to detect three cows on Mars belching methane.
Several of the NAI principal investigators and co-investigators are members of the payload science teams.