NOMAD is a spectrometer for the ExoMars 2016 mission (Trace Gas Orbiter mission).
Its goal is to analyze the Martian atmosphere. At the heart of the instrument is an optical component, called a diffraction grating, which spreads the light into its different wavelengths, like a prism, but with a much better performance.
AMOS was in charge of manufacturing and testing this critical component which will allow to better understand the origins and the concentration variations of the various gases present in Mars’ atmosphere, focusing especially on methane in order to try to determine if life is, or has been, present on Mars.
The grating is a gold-coated aluminum grating.
It was accompanied with some addition aluminum folding mirrors.
NOMAD is now in full operation around Mars, and took its first “sniff” of the Mars atmosphere. Ann Carine Vandaele, principal investigator of the NOMAD instrument (the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy), was also delighted by the first results: “Our instrument has a detection sensitivity that is improved by several orders of magnitude compared to previous missions.” This confirms that the performance of the diffraction grating provided by AMOS is excellent and that the technology used allows for big leaps in performances compared to technologies used on other instruments.