MEDUSA: The ExoMars experiment for in-situ monitoring of dust and water vapour

Colangeli, L.; Lopez-Moreno, J. J.; Nørnberg, P.; Della Corte, V.; Esposito, F.; Mazzotta Epifani, E.; Merrison, J.; Molfese, C.; Palumbo, P.; Rodriguez-Gomez, J. F.; Rotundi, A.; Visconti, G. and Zarnecki, J. C. (2009). MEDUSA: The ExoMars experiment for in-situ monitoring of dust and water vapour. Planetary And Space Science, 57(8-9) pp. 1043–1049.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2008.07.013

Abstract

Dust and water vapour are fundamental components of the Martian atmosphere. In view of tracing the past environmental conditions on Mars, that possibly favoured the appearing of life forms, it is important to study the present climate and its evolution. Here dust and water vapour have (and have had) strong influence. Of major scientific interest is the quantity and physical, chemical and electrical properties of dust and the abundance of water vapour dispersed in the atmosphere and their exchange with the surface. Moreover, in view of the exploration of the planet with automated systems and in the future by manned missions, it is of primary importance to analyse the hazards linked to these environmental factors. The Martian Environmental Dust Systematic Analyser (MEDUSA) experiment, included in the scientific payload of the ESA ExoMars mission, accommodates a complement of sensors, based on optical detection and cumulative mass deposition, that aims to study dust and water vapour in the lower Martian atmosphere. The goals are to study, for the first time, in-situ and quantitatively, physical properties of the airborne dust, including the cumulative dust mass flux, the dust deposition rate, the physical and electrification properties, the size distribution of sampled particles and the atmospheric water vapour abundance versus time.

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