Development of a Coronal and Ionospheric Imager for the 2009 Mars Telecom Orbiter, 15-9425

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Principal Investigators
Randy Gladstone
Geoff Crowley
Chris Hackert
Kurt Retherford
David Slater
Michael Davis
Don Hassler
Kelly Smith
Alan Stern
Mike Epperly

Inclusive Dates:  09/22/03 – 04/01/05

Background - The Mars Telecom Orbiter (MTO) spacecraft was a designated mission in NASA's Mars Exploration Program. Before cancellation in July 2005, the spacecraft was scheduled to 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 was to provide support to other science missions and several engineering demonstrations, it was expected to also include at least one small science instrument. Our goal was to propose a science instrument that could 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. The main objective of this project was to design an instrument that could address these science goals within the constraints of the MTO mission.

Approach - 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 - One paper related to this work was published in Icarus, and two presentations were made at the Spring 2004 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 used to finalize the design of the scanning mirror and prepare a Science Requirements Document.

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