Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has reported that it will offer significant support to NASA and European Space Agency’s (ESA) joint robotic Mars mission.
Among the five scientific instruments which will be boarded in the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), Ball Aerospace will offer vital contributions to two instruments.
TGO is a robotic spacecraft which is scheduled to take-off to Mars in March 2016 for analyzing the chemical composition of Mars’s atmosphere. When compared with the previous Mars spacecrafts, TGO will offer thousand times more sensitive data, concentrating mainly on Methane and its origin in Mars, which could probably reveal the survival of life on Mars.
The High Resolution Stereo Color Imager (HiSCI) is one of the five instruments to be included in the TGO. The focal plane and electronics for the HiSCl will be provided by Ball Aerospace. It was reported that the company will also focus on designing and examining the instrument system. Ball Aerospace had already developed a High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) by partnering with University of Arizona and the University of Bern. The MRO was launched in 2005 and so far HiRISE has made around 17,000 observations for the orbiter and has been returning very clear MRO images of the Mars. The resolution scale of images taken by HiSCI is 2 m/pixel in contrast to the 0.3 m/pixel of HiRISE, but HiSCI will offer a broader coverage in terms of color and stereo.
Mars Atmosphere Trace Molecule Occultation Spectrometer (MATMOS) is the second instrument to be featured in the TGO. Ball Aerospace will collaborate with Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the principal examiner Paul Wennberg, for developing the cryogenic radiator and the detector system for MATMOS. These instruments will be based on the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) system, which was built by Ball Aerospace and launched by the Canadian Space Agency in 2003.
David L. Taylor, Ball Aerospace President and CEO expressed his pleasure over supporting NASA/ESA joint mission. He added that since 1970, they have been developing instruments like Viking orbiters, Spirit and Opportunity rovers and currently the very popular HiRISE camera for various Mars missions.