The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) is ready to commence. ExoMars TGO has the goal to measure trace gases in the Mars atmosphere to detect active geological processes but also to see if there is extraterrestrial life on Mars.
Thanks to the aerobraking carried out by ESA this year, the satellite is now in the correct orbit to start, that is, in a practically circular orbit of 400 kilometers. The probe is already making its orbital journey around Mars.
Now, all that remains is to install the new software to start the measurements and to calibrate the orbiter. After this, it will begin to measure the trace gases, which are those that are found in a lesser quantity in the atmosphere of Mars.
ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) mission could find extraterrestrial life on Mars
“We have reached the orbit for the first time through the aerobraking and with the heaviest orbiter ever sent to the Red Planet, ready to start looking for signs of life from orbit,” the ESA reports says.
“We will start our scientific mission in just a couple of weeks and we are very excited about what the first measurements will reveal,” says Hakan Svedhem, a scientist linked to the project.
The search for methane goes back to Mars Express, the other ESA mission on Mars, which detected small amounts of methane in the Mars atmosphere. This probe was not prepared to detect gases in low amounts, though.
Thus, ESA decided to send the ExoMars TGO to verify the analyzes and, above all, to find the methane source because its origins may be due to geological or biological processes on Mars.
Methane can only come from two sources, namely, hidden volcanic activity or extraterrestrial life on Mars. However, methane is not the only trace gas in Mars atmosphere that will be examined. Any trace gas that is related to biological or geological processes will be captured by the ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.