Spectacular views of Red Planet from new space mission analysed by Leicester scientist

A space scientist is involved in analysing the first hi-res images from Mars orbit taken by a new exploratory mission.

The European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) blasted off in March as part of a preliminary exercise to study where the future ExoMars rover will land, as it searches for signs of microbial life. Now the Mars Camera, CaSSIS, on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has captured its first high resolution images of the Red Planet. The Swiss-led camera worked almost perfectly and has provided spectacular views of the surface.

Playing a vital part in the analysis of the incoming Martian data is University of Leicester space scientist Professor John Bridges from our Department of Physics and Astronomy.He is part of the CaSSIS camera team – tasked with characterising areas associated with the emission of traces of methane gas which is a potential indicator of biological activity.

Professor Bridges said: “The Trace Gas Orbiter will provide high resolution, stereo, colour coverage of Mars. This will help with landing site characterisation for the rover and will also help us to understand the origin of methane that we have found with Mars Science Laboratory.

“One of the first images we have received was taken at the Periapsis Pass - when we get closest to the planet. It is Noctis Labyrinthus, showing gullies on the side of a valley at the eastern termination of the great Valles Marineris canyons."