Assessment of a 2016 mission concept: The search for trace gases in the atmosphere of Mars
Atmospheric trace gas
Spatial and temporal variation
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The reported detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars as well as its potentially large seasonal spatial variations challenge our understanding of both the sources and sinks of atmospheric trace gases. The presence of methane suggests ongoing exchange between the subsurface and the atmosphere of potentially biogenic trace gases, while the spatial and temporal variations cannot be accounted for with current knowledge of martian photochemistry. A Joint Instrument Definition Team (JIDT) was asked to assess concepts for a mission that might follow up on these discoveries within the framework of a series of joint missions being considered by ESA and NASA for possible future exploration of Mars. The following is based on the report of the JIDT to the space agencies (Zurek et al.; 2009); a synopsis of the report was presented at the Workshop on Mars Methane held in Frascati, Italy, in November 2009. To summarize, the JIDT believed that a scientifically exciting and credible mission could be conducted within the evolving capabilities of the science/ telecommunications orbiter being considered by ESA and NASA for possible launch in the 2016 opportunity for Mars.
CitationZurek, R.W.; Chicarro, A.; Allen, M.A.; Bertaux, J.-L.; Clancy, R.T.; Daerden, F.; Formisano, V.; Garvin, J.B.; Neukum, G.; Smith, M.D. (2011). Assessment of a 2016 mission concept: The search for trace gases in the atmosphere of Mars. , Planetary and Space Science, Vol. 59, Issue 2-3, 284-291, DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2010.07.007.