DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 57. Future Missions and Instruments posters
Displayed, 9:00am Tuesday - 3:00pm Saturday, Highlighted, Saturday, December 1, 2001, 2:00-2:30pm, French Market Exhibit Hall

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[57.10] A combined atmospheric and geological mission to Mars

V. J. Hipkin, J. R. Drummond, B. M. Quine, K. Strong, B. T. Tolton (U Toronto), J. J. Caldwell, J. C. McConnell (U York), B. A. Rivard, B. Jones (U Alberta), G. R. Davis (U Saskatchewan)

By 2007 we hope to have new scientific data from a number of existing and planned Mars missions (MGS, Nozomi, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express). These data will broadly characterize the Mars surface and atmospheric environments and make a significant contribution towards answering some of the outstanding questions about the existence of water and life on Mars.

Here we propose an infra-red spectrometer instrument concept for the next generation of missions. This concept is for an orbiter instrument with high spectral and spatial capability and with a mission of carefully targeted surface and atmospheric measurements.

This work identifies potential scientific targets for such a mission and addresses the feasibility of combining surface and atmospheric measurements and high spectral and spatial resolution. Two scientific targets for such a mission that have already been identified are described. These are surface hydrothermal silicate deposits and atmospheric constituent profiles.

Hydrothermal silicate deposits are a rich source for fossil life on Earth. If they exist on Mars they are likely to form small deposits undetected by previous missions. Data from previous missions would however be extremely useful in constraining a search.

Simultaneous profile measurements of atmospheric constituents, dust and cloud are required to answer fundamental questions about the stability, chemistry and dynamic feedbacks of the Mars atmosphere. The relatively low sensitivity and spectral resolution of previous and planned missions lead to ambiguity in the spectra and serious loss of information. High spectral resolution will allow precision measurements of a suite of atmospheric constituents such as CO2, H20, O2, O3, CO, NO, cloud and dust, and the capability to measure previously undetected trace gases such as hydrocarbons which could indicate the existence of current biotic activity.

This work is the result of a concept study funded by the Canadian Space Agency and supported by COMDEV Int. Ltd, ABB BOMEM Inc., and the University of Toronto.

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