What is the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)?

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What is the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)? Blog Image


The European Space Agency's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) recently flashed an encoded message to Earth from its orbit around Mars.

About ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO):

  • TGO is the first in a series of joint missions between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
  • Goal: To gain a better understanding of methane and other atmospheric gases that are present in small concentrations (less than 1% of the atmosphere) in the Martian atmosphere. 
  • The orbiter’s sensitivity to hydrogen has also allowed it to search for water buried underneath shallow layers of Martian soil.
  • It’s also meant to test technology for future missions.
  • It was launched in March 2016 and began operations after entering Mars orbit on Oct. 19, 2016.
  • TGO carried the Schiaparelli lander with it to Mars. However, it was crashed during landing.
  • The spacecraft itself is a 3.2 meter by 2 meter by 2 meter box, fitted with one antenna to communicate with Earth and another to communicate with spacecraft on the surface of Mars. 
  • It is powered by a pair of solar arrays that protrude from its sides like wings, along with two small batteries to keep it running during eclipses, when it doesn’t receive any sunlight.
  • It carries several instruments including,
    • NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery);
    • ACS (Atmospheric Chemistry Suite);
    • CaSSIS (Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System);
    • FREND (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector);


Q1) What is NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery)?

(NOMAD) instrument is a spectrometer suite led by the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), being flown on the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission.NOMAD consists of three separate channels, Solar Occultation (SO), Limb Nadir and Occultation (LNO) and Ultraviolet and VIsible Spectrometer (UVIS), all controlled via a single main electronics unit (SINBAD).

Source: First contact: Alien signal beamed to Earth from Mars for the first time