Countdown to Mars Mission begins

Dr. Ed Cloutis, photo courtesy of UWinnipeg

Dr. Ed Cloutis, photo courtesy of UWinnipeg

UWinnipeg Geography Professor Dr. Ed Cloutis is UWinnipeg’s resident Mars expert and is currently involved with an upcoming Mars mission. Cloutis is a Co-Investigator on an international team that has created the Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery (NOMAD) instrument. This instrument will be flying in the upcoming Mars Mission that will be launched on Monday, March 14 at 3:30 am from Russia as part of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. The NOMAD will be searching for the presence of various gases in the Martian atmosphere that may be signs of past or present life on the planet.

“The NOMAD instrument on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter gives us our best chance to date to determine if life was or is present on Mars by searching for the presence of various gases that may be associated with life,” explained Cloutis.

The Orbiter carrying the NOMAD will perform detailed, remote observations of the Martian atmosphere, searching for evidence of gases of possible biological importance, such as methane and its degradation products. The NOMAD is one of several instruments onboard that will carry out a variety of measurements to investigate the location and nature of sources that produce these gases. The scientific mission is expected to begin in December 2017 and will run for five years. The Trace Gas Orbiter will also be used to relay data for the 2018 rover mission of the ExoMars programme and until the end of 2022.

The NOMAD team
Cloutis is one of the Canadian connections on this team lead by Ann Carine Vandaele from the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy. Other participating researchers are from Spain, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Cloutis is Director of the University’s Planetary Spectrophotometer Facility, a state-of-the-art laboratory designed to simulate various planetary surfaces and support planetary exploration. He has over 25 years’ experience in planetary exploration. Dr. Cloutis is involved in a number of active and future planetary spacecraft missions, including the NASA-Canadian Space Agency OSIRIS-REX asteroid sample return mission (launching in September 2016), the NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover (currently on the surface of Mars), the NASA-ESA Dawn asteroid mission (currently in orbit around asteroid Ceres), the European Space Agency-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (launching in March 2016), and the NASA Mars 2020 rover mission. His research in planetary exploration was recognized by the naming of asteroid 6081 Cloutis by the International Astronomical Union in 2002.

MEDIA CONTACT
Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7130, E: n.ibrahim@uwinnipeg.ca

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1 Comment

  • K said...

    Amazing contribution to Mars Exploration!- Go Ed! – UW Geography is where it’s at!