ExoMars 2016: Trace Gas Orbiter
Artist's impression of the ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).
With a science payload of four instruments - NOMAD, ACS, CaSSIS, and FREND - the TGO will investigate trace gases – those gases that are present in small concentrations in the atmosphere, making up less than 1 per cent of it. There will be particular focus on hydrocarbons and sulphur species, some of which could be signatures of active biological or geological processes, at present or in the past.
The TGO will be launched with Schiaparelli (not shown here) – an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module. They will fly in a composite configuration to Mars. Three days before reaching the atmosphere of the Red Planet, Schiaparelli will be ejected from the TGO towards the planet. The TGO will be inserted into an elliptical orbit around Mars and then sweep through the atmosphere – aerobraking – for about a year to finally settle into a circular, approximately 400-km altitude orbit ready to conduct its scientific mission.
ExoMars is a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia's Roscosmos space agency.