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NOMAD - Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery

The NOMAD instrument, onboard Exomars’ 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter spacecraft, is a 3-channel spectrometer suite to conduct a spectroscopic survey of Mars’ atmosphere in the UV, visible and IR spectral ranges, in search for traces of life.

NOMAD was built by an international consortium led by IASB-BIRA [B] as Principle Investigator and OIP Sensor Systems as Industrial Prime. Lambda-X [B] was subcontractor.
OIP was responsible for the optical design and the Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV) of the payload (Phase B/C/D).
Project is funded by ESA/PRODEX.

Wavelength range: 200 – 650nm and 2.2 – 4.3µm.

Instrument

NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery), is a 3-channel spectrometer suite to conduct a spectroscopic survey of Mars’ atmosphere in the UV, visible and IR spectral ranges, in search for traces of life.

NOMAD is a spectrometer suite that can measure the spectrum of sunlight across a wide range of wavelengths. This broad coverage of the instrument enables the detection of the components of the Martian atmosphere, even in low concentrations. In addition to identifying the constituents of the Martian atmosphere, NOMAD will also map their locations.

The measurements will be carried out in solar occultation, i.e. the instrument points toward the Sun when the Orbiter moves at the dark side of Mars, as well as in nadir mode, i.e. looking directly at the sunlight reflected from the surface and atmosphere of Mars. The inclination of the Orbiter has been chosen to optimise the science that can be done with the instrument suite.

Investigating the Martian atmosphere in search for traces of life

NOMAD covers the infrared (2.2-4.3 µm) and the ultraviolet-visible (0.2-0.65 µm) spectral regions, using the following three channels:

  • the solar occultation only channel (SO) operating in the infrared wavelength domain,
  • the second infrared channel capable of doing nadir, but also solar occultation and limb observations (LNO), and
  • the ultraviolet/visible channel (UVIS) that can work in all observation modes.

NOMAD offers an integrated instrument combination of a flight-proven concept (SO/LNO are based on SOIR on Venus Express), and innovations based on existing and proven instrumentation, that will provide mapping and vertical profile information at high spatio-temporal resolution.

 

Keywords

Solution: Spectrometer

Type: Multispectral

Application field: Mars observation

Mission: ExoMars2016

Life: Operational (Launched March 2016)

TraceGas Orbiter at a glace

The TraceGas Orbiter (TGO) spacecraft was the carrier for the NOMAD spectrometer on it’s journey to Mars.

  • Designed by ESA, built by Thales Alenia Space (Cannes,F)
  • Spacecraft dimensions 3.2m×2m×2m with solar wings spanning 17.5m tip-to-tip
  • Total satellite mass 4332kg (incl. 112kg of science payload and 600kg Schiaparelli)
  • X-band system with 2.2m high-gain antenna and 3 low-gain antennas for communication with Earth
  • Electra UHF band transceivers with a single helix antenna for communication with rovers & landers.
  • Science instrument package:
    • Atmospheric Chemistry Suite (ACS);
    • Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS);
    • Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector (FREND);
    • Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery (NOMAD)

NOMAD in numbers

  • A 3-channel spectrometer suit
  • Combination of flight-proven concepts and innovations based on
    existing and proven instrumentation
  • A total of 5 optical apertures
  • Wavelength range: 200-650nm & 2.3-4.3μm
  • Mass 26kg, envelope 40x53x37cm³ (HxLxW)
  • Power 36W average; 48.7W peak
  • 1553 interface for HouseKeeping data; SpaceWire for Science data
  • Data rate/volume (per nominal day of 12 orbits):
  • HK (1553) = 6.64Mbit/day
  • Science (SpW) = 2525Mbit/day
  • Passive cooling
  • Developed by 12 countries and 53 partners

 

 

 

Mission

NOMAD is part of the ExoMars2016, a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). The first mission of the ExoMars programme , scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2016, consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter (abbreviated as TGO) plus an Entry, Descent and landing demonstrator Module, known as Schiaparelli (abbreviated as EDM).

The main objectives of this mission are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA’s contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.

The Trace Gas Orbiter will accommodate scientific instruments for the detection of trace gases with an improved accuracy of three orders of magnitude compared to previous measurements from orbit and ground-based measurements. It will also provide new data for the study of the temporal and spatial evolution of trace gases in the Martian atmosphere, and for the location of their source regions.
The scientific payload operations of the Orbiter started in 2017 and are planned to last for a minimum of one Martian year (687 Earth days).

Schiaparelli – an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module – is a technology demonstration vehicle carried by the ExoMars TGO to demonstrate the capability of European industry to perform a controlled landing on the surface of Mars.

OIP’s Participation

OIP was responsible for the optical design and the Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV) of the payload (Phase B/C/D).

OIP built an STM, a PFM and FS model in the frame of the contract.

Status

NOMAD Proto-Flight Model (PFM) was delivered to Thales Alenia Space (TAS), Cannes, France in May 2015. The integration on the TGO S/C was realized by NOMAD team in June 2015. After several environmental tests at S/C level, the TGO was shipped to the launch site end of 2015.
The TGO and in particular NOMAD survived the transport from Cannes to Baikonur Cosmodrome. This was demonstrated during Functional Checks and Alignment checks (January 2016), when NOMAD was declared ready for flight by ESA/TAS.

ExoMars2016 was launched on a Proton rocket (by International Launch Service ILS) and flew to Mars in a composite configuration. By taking advantage of the positioning of Earth and Mars the cruise phase could be limited to about 7 months, with the pair arriving at Mars in October 2016.

ExoMars 2016 Mission Phases Overview:

14 March 2016 → Launch
16 October 2016 → Schiaparelli – Trace Gas Orbiter separation
19 October 2016 → Trace Gas Orbiter insertion into Mars orbit
19 October 2016 → Schiaparelli enters Martian atmosphere but crash-lands on the target site
19-23 October 2016 → Schiaparelli science operations (not possible due to crash)
December 2016 → Trace Gas Orbiter changes inclination to science orbit (74°)
Jan 2017 – Dec 2017 → Aerobraking phase (TGO lowers its altitude to 400 km orbit)
December 2017 → Trace Gas Orbiter science operations begin.
December 2022 → End of Trace Gas Orbiter mission

Partners

NOMAD was built by an international consortium led by IASB-BIRA [B] as Principle Investigator and OIP Sensor Systems as Industrial Prime. Lambda-X [B] was subcontractor for the UV channel.
Project is funded by ESA/PRODEX.

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