Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

The study of the martian atmosphere from top to bottom with SPICAM light on mars express

Abstract : SPICAM Light is a small UV-IR instrument selected for Mars Express to recover most of the science that was lost with the demise of Mars 96, where the SPICAM set of sensors was dedicated to the study of the atmosphere of Mars (Spectroscopy for the investigation of the characteristics of the atmosphere of mars). The new configuration of SPICAM Light includes optical sensors and an electronics block. A UV spectrometer (118-320 nm, resolution 0.8 nm) is dedicated to Nadir viewing, limb viewing and vertical profiling by stellar occultation (3.8 kg). It addresses key issues about ozone, its coupling with H2O, aerosols, atmospheric vertical temperature structure and ionospheric studies. An IR spectrometer (1.2- 4.8 μm, resolution 0.4-1 nm) is dedicated to vertical profiling during solar occultation of H2O, CO2, CO, aerosols and exploration of carbon compounds (3.5 kg). A nadir looking sensor for H2O abundances (1.0- 1.7 μm, resolution 0.8 nm) is recently included in the package (0.8 kg). A simple data processing unit (DPU, 0.9 kg) provides the interface of these sensors with the spacecraft. In nadir orientation, SPICAM UV is essentially an ozone detector, measuring the strongest O3 absorption band at 250 nm in the spectrum of the solar light scattered back from the ground. In the stellar occultation mode the UV Sensor will measure the vertical profiles of CO2, temperature, O3, clouds and aerosols. The density/temperature profiles obtained with SPICAM Light will constrain and aid in the development of the meteorological and dynamical atmospheric models, from the surface to 160 km in the atmosphere. This is essential for future missions that will rely on aerocapture and aerobraking. UV observations of the upper atmosphere will allow study of the ionosphere through the emissions of CO, CO+, and CO2+, and its direct interaction with the solar wind. Also, it will allow a better understanding of escape mechanisms and estimates of their magnitude, crucial for insight into the long-term evolution of the atmosphere. The SPICAM Light IR sensor is inherited from the IR solar part of the SPICAM solar occultation instrument of Mars 96. Its main scientific objective is the global mapping of the vertical structure of H2O, CO2, CO, HDO, aerosols, atmospheric density, and temperature by the solar occultation. The wide spectral range of the IR spectrometer and its high spectral resolution allow an exploratory investigation addressing fundamental question of the possible presence of carbon compounds in the Martian atmosphere. Because of severe mass constraints this channel is still optional. An additional nadir near IR channel that employs a pioneering technology acousto-optical tuneable filter (AOTF) is dedicated to the measurement of water vapour column abundance in the IR simultaneously with ozone measured in the UV. It will be done at much lower telemetry budget compared to the other instrument of the mission, planetary fourier spectrometer (PFS).
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Catherine Cardon <>
Submitted on : Sunday, March 4, 2018 - 3:22:45 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 8, 2021 - 12:16:03 PM

Links full text



Jean-Loup Bertaux, D. Fonteyn, O. Korablev, Eric Chassefière, Emmanuel Dimarellis, et al.. The study of the martian atmosphere from top to bottom with SPICAM light on mars express. Planetary and Space Science, Elsevier, 2000, 48 (12-14), pp.1303 - 1320. ⟨10.1016/S0032-0633(00)00111-2⟩. ⟨insu-01722504⟩



Record views