The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which was launched into the orbit of Mars as part of the Russian-European ExoMars mission, has successfully tested its entire set of instruments in its new environment for the first time, according to the European Space Agency (ESA) website.
The TGO’s main task is to draw up a detailed catalogue of the rare gases that are present in Mars’ atmosphere (methane, water vapour, nitrogen dioxide and acetylene). The instruments that will be utilised to solve this problem are the ACS (Atmospheric Chemistry Suite), which measured carbon dioxide levels during the test, and NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery), which searched for water.
In addition, the FREND neutron detector (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector) and high resolution colour camera CaSSIS (Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System) were tested. The latter took 11 images.
For most of next year, the TGO will gradually move to a working circular orbit using the atmospheric braking method and, at this time, its scientific instruments will be switched off. The beginning of their regular work is scheduled for late 2017 – early 2018.
ExoMars is a joint Mars exploration project of Roscosmos and the European Space Agency aimed at investigating its surface, atmosphere and climate from both the orbit and the surface of the planet.