Trace Gas Orbiter has revealed new absorption bands of carbon dioxide and ozone in the Martian atmosphere

The Orbiter, a European- ExoMars found deep in the atmosphere of Mars previously unknown absorption bands of ozone and carbon dioxide. This forces scientists to reconsider methods of prospecting for methane in the Martian atmosphere, however, allows us to understand the chemical processes in the atmosphere of the red planet. Articles (1, 2) published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The spacecraft TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) was launched into space in 2016, the first phase of the program “ExoMars”, which aims at finding possible traces of life on Mars. To accomplish it, the apparatus using four scientific instruments (two of which are developed in space research Institute) is looking for water in the surface layer of the planet, as well as traces of methane and other substances in the atmosphere (for example, propane, ethane and sulfur compounds) that help to understand whether there is on Mars, biosphere, or these substances are products of geochemical reactions. Thanks TGO, scientists have been able to obtain new global limits on the concentration of methane in the atmosphere of the red planet.

Two groups of planetary scientists led by Alexander Trokhimovskii (Alexander Trokhimovskiy) from space research Institute and Kevin Olsen (Kevin Olsen) from Oxford University has published the results of the analysis of the data collected by the spectrometric complex of then ACS (Atmospheric Chemistry Suite) installed on Board the TGO, which deals with the study of the chemical composition of the atmosphere of Mars. The scientists worked with the MIR spectrometer data collected over one Martian year. This device monitors various substances in the atmosphere absorb some solar radiation, which is reflected in the observed spectra.

Originally, scientists discovered in the spectra of the reduced signal into individual wavelengths, which was interpreted as an error. But after further processing of the data in the spectra obtained for the deep layers of the atmosphere (below 20 km from the surface of Mars), was found 30 weak absorption lines that do not match the databases. In the end, the scientists came to the conclusion that we are dealing with new absorption bands of the main isotopolog carbon dioxide, which arises from the magnetic dipole transition and also with the ozone absorption bands in the middle infrared range.

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