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Mars current research

Ever since time immemorial, people have paid much attention to planet Mars. Astrologers of ancient civilizations were fascinated by the planet’s red colour. In various mythologies, Mars symbolized fire and war.

Space exploration in the 1960s lead to a major breakthrough in our knowledge of Mars.

The Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) was formerly involved in several missions, whether successful or less successful, such as Kepler, Phobos, Mars 96, ISO, and observation campaigns from the Caucasus.

BIRA-IASB is currently engaged in Mars Express and Exomars.

BIRA-IASB scientists also apply 3D computer models of the Martian atmosphere to interpret space mission data and to obtain a more profound understanding of e.g. the formation of water ice clouds on Mars. This research occurs in collaboration with York University in Toronto.

Mars
Mars, observed at a distance of
5.000.000 km

BIRA-IASB has also been involved since a long time in the remote sensing of planetary atmospheric using spectroscopic methods, as well in the infrared spectral range, as in the ultraviolet range. Analysing spectra of radiation being transmitted through the atmosphere (through processes such as absorption, emission or diffusion) tells a lot on the composition and the structure (temperature and density) of the sounded atmosphere. A particular type of observations, called solar occultations, allows the detailed study of what happens at the terminator, i.e. the limit between the day and night sides of the planet.

 

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