A Coronal and Ionospheric Imager for the 2009 Mars Telecom Orbiter, 15-9425Printer Friendly Version
Inclusive Dates: 09/22/03 - 04/01/05
Background - The Mars Telecom Orbiter (MTO) spacecraft is a designated mission in NASA's Mars Exploration Program and will be launched in 2009 to serve as a communications relay at Mars for surface and orbital missions of the next decade. While the primary purpose of this mission is to provide support to other science missions and several engineering demonstrations, it is expected to also include space on board for at least one small science instrument. The team's goal is to propose a science instrument that can take advantage of the high-altitude planned orbit for MTO to image hydrogen and helium coronal emissions in the Martian exosphere and oxygen ion emissions in the Martian ionosphere. The morphology of these emissions can be used to extract densities and escape rates for H, He, and O atoms and to highlight the interactions between the solar wind and the ionosphere.
Approach - The main objective of this project was to design an instrument that can address these science goals within the constraints of the MTO mission. Work on this project involved three main tasks: 1) Model simulations of Martian airglow emissions, 2) High-altitude upgrades to a Mars General Circulation Model (GCM), and 3) Design of a prototype spectrographic imager suitable for MTO.
Accomplishments - Papers were presented on the airglow simulations and the GCM model at the spring annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. A UV spectrograph design was adopted that is similar to the ALICE instrument built by SwRI for the Rosetta and New Horizons missions, modified to include a scanning mirror at the front end of the optics. A 6-month extension was requested and approved to finalize the design of the scanning mirror.