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Operator European Space Agency
Manufacturer Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, of the CNRS
Instrument type Infrared hyperspectral microscope
Function Subsurface composition
Mission duration ≥ 7 months[1]
Mass ≈2 kg
Host Spacecraft
Spacecraft ExoMars rover
Operator European Space Agency
Launch date July 2020[2]
Rocket Proton rocket
COSPAR ID {{#property:P247}}
Grains of Earth olivine, one of the minerals MicroOmega is designed to detect

MicrOmega-IR is an infrared hyperspectral microscope that is part of the science payload on board the European ExoMars rover,[3] tasked to search for biosignatures on Mars. The rover is planned to land on Mars in 2021. MicrOmega-IR will analyse in situ the powder material derived from crushed samples collected by the rover's core drill.[4][5]

Development[edit | edit source]

The MicrOmega mnemonic is derived from its French name Micro observatoire pour la mineralogie, l'eau, les glaces et l'activité;[1] IR stands for infrared. It was developed by France's Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale at the CNRS. France has also flown MicrOmega on other missions such as the 2011 Fobos-Grunt and the Hayabusa2 MASCOT mobile lander currently exploring asteroid Ryugu.[6] France is also developing a variant called MacrOmega Near-IR Spectrometer for the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) lander, a Japanese sample-return mission to Mars' moon Phobos.[7]

The Principal Investigator of the MicrOmega-IR for the ExoMars rover is Jean-Pierre Bibring, a French astronomer and planetary scientist at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale. Co-PIs are astrobiologists Frances Westall and Nicolas Thomas.[8]

MicrOmega was developed by a consortium including:[9]

Overview[edit | edit source]

MicrOmega-IR Parameter/units [10]
Type Infrared hyperspectral microscope
Manufacturer Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale,
of the CNRS
Spectral range 0.9–4 μm [11]
Spectral sampling 20/cm from 0.95 μm to 3.65 μm
Imaging resolution 20  μm2/pixel
Field of view 5 × 5  mm2
Mass ≈ 2 kilograms (4.4 lb)

MicrOmega-IR is a visible and infrared hyperspectral microscope that is designed to characterize the texture and composition of crushed samples presented to the instrument.[10] Its objective is to study mineral grain assemblages in detail to try to unravel their geological origin, structure and composition, including potential organics.[10] These data will be vital for interpreting past and present geological processes and environments on Mars. Because MicrOmega-IR is an imaging instrument, it can also be used to identify grains that are particularly interesting, and assign them as targets for Raman and MOMA observations.[10]

It is composed of 2 microscopes: MicrOmega/VIS has a spatial sampling of approximately 4 μm, working in 4 colors in the visible range. The other one is the MicrOmega/NIR hyperspectral microscope working in the spectral range 0.95 μm - 3.65 μm with a spatial sampling of 20 μm per pixel.[11] Its main supporting components include: [12]

The IR instrument uses a HgCdTe (Mercury-Cadmium-Telluride) matrix detector, the Sofradir Mars SW 320 x 256 pixels.[13]

Examples of materials for identification, if present:[14]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Vago, Jorge L.; et al. (July 2017). "Habitability on Early Mars and the Search for Biosignatures with the ExoMars Rover". Astrobiology. 17 (6-7): 471–510. Bibcode:2017AsBio..17..471V. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1533. 
  2. "Second ExoMars mission moves to next launch opportunity in 2020" (Press release). European Space Agency. 2 May 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  3. ExoMars: Searching for Life on Mars. Elizabeth Howell, Space.com. March 15, 2017.
  4. Vago, Jorge; Witasse, Olivier; Baglioni, Pietro; Haldemann, Albert; Gianfiglio, Giacinto; et al. (August 2013). "ExoMars: ESA's Next Step in Mars Exploration" (PDF). Bulletin. European Space Agency (155): 12–23. 
  5. Korablev, Oleg I.; et al. (July 2017). "Infrared Spectrometer for ExoMars: A Mast-Mounted Instrument for the Rover". Astrobiology. 17 (6-7): 542–564. Bibcode:2017AsBio..17..542K. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1543. 
  6. MicroMega Instrument for MASCOT. CNES, France. August 26, 2016. Accessed: 21 July 2018.
  7. Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) Mission Overview. (PDF). JAXA. 10 April 2017.
  8. The ExoMars Rover Instrument Suite - MicrOmega. European Space Agency. Published: 25 August 2017.
  9. Vaitua, Leroi; Bibring, Jean-Pierre; Berthé, Michel (2017-11-21). "MicrOmega IR: a new infrared hyperspectral imaging microscope or in situ analysis". 10566. doi:10.1117/12.2308234.full. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 The MicrOmega Investigation Onboard ExoMars. Jean-Pierre Bibring, Vincent Hamm, Cédric Pilorget, Jorge L. Vago, and the MicrOmega Team. Astrobiology, Vol. 17, No. 6-7. 1 July 2017. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1642.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Micromega/IR: Design and status of a near-infrared spectral microscope for in situ analysis of Mars samples. Vaitua Leroi, Jean-Pierre Bibring, Michel Berthe. Planetary and Space Science, Volume 57, Issues 8–9, July 2009, Pages 1068-1075. doi:10.1016/j.pss.2008.12.014
  12. MicrOmega Instrument Prototype. European Space Agency. 12 October 2015.
  13. Vaitua, Leroi; Bibring, Jean-Pierre; Berthé, Michel (2017-11-21). "MicrOmega IR: a new infrared hyperspectral imaging microscope or in situ analysis". 10566. doi:10.1117/12.2308234.full. 
  14. Leroi, Vaitua; Bibring, Jean-Pierre; Berthe, Michel (July 2009). "Micromega/IR: Design and status of a near-infrared spectral microscope for in situ analysis of Mars samples". Planetary and Space Science. 57 (8-9): 1068–1075. Bibcode:2009P&SS...57.1068L. doi:10.1016/j.pss.2008.12.014. ISSN 0032-0633. 

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