Part of the first image captured by the Trace Gas Orbiter on April 15, 2018 from its new science orbit. This view shows a stretch of the Korolev crater (1
The first photograph of a European Mars spaceship from its new orbit is a mess.
A few weeks ago, the trace gas orbiter (TGO) slid on a nearly circular orbit 400 kilometers above the surface of the Red Planet. And we have now seen the first picture of this perch: a gorgeous photo showing a 25-mile section of the Corolowic crater in the Mars Moon.
TGO snapped the photo on April 15, during the trial phase of its Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) camera, European Space Agency (ESA) officials said. CaSSIS is scheduled to begin its scientific work on Saturday (April 28). [Photos: Europe’s ExoMars Missions to Mars in Pictures]
"We are pleased to begin collecting data on Mars with this phenomenal spaceship," said Håkan Svedhem, ESA-TGO Project Scientist. "The test images we've seen so far are certainly raising the bar."
TGO is part of the ExoMars program, which is being carried out by ESA with the support of the Russian Space Agency. The Orbiter launched in March 2016 along with a landing demonstrator named Schiaparelli to test the technology needed for the ExoMars rover. This rover is scheduled to start in 2020.
TGO and Schiaparelli arrived in Mars in October 2016; TGO reached its original orbit as planned, but the lander crashed on the surface of the Red Planet.
Soon after, TGO embarked on a one-year "aerobraking" campaign, diving through the thin Martian atmosphere to form its orbit. This phase ended in February 2018, and the probe shortly thereafter reached its 250-mile scientific orbit.
TGO's main task is to search for methane and other low abundance (or trace) gases in the Martian atmosphere on April 21 with its two spectrometers on board. Methane is a possible sign of life; Most of the methane in the air of the earth is produced by microbes and other organisms. But the stuff can also be made by geological processes. TGO's observations could help researchers better understand where and how Mars methane is produced, ExoMars team members said.
CaSSIS & # 39; Photos will contribute to this work by showing the location of possible geological sources of methane (such as volcanoes). , The camera images also help members of the mission team decide where to land the rover in 2021, ESA officials said.
TGO also carries another scientific instrument, a neutron detector, with which the probe can image deposits of buried water ice