The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is searching for the signature of gases that make up the atmosphere of Mars. Before the robotic rover touches down in 2020, the trace gas orbiter will search for the presence of certain gases that could indicate biological or geological activity.
That is all good news for space scientists who want to understand more about Mars. But what is happening to our atmosphere on planet Earth? We are undergoing a population increase like never before, and by 2050 three quarters of the world will live in cities.
Amazing Atmospheres offers school students the chance to be part of the ExoMars Mission. Students are asked to evaluate the atmospheric gas content of sites across the UK, detecting seasonal changes in the composition and temperature. The data will be collated from the contributions of schools and colleges with the aim of understanding the changing molecular make-up of our local environment. The composition of the atmosphere has implications on climate change, air quality and public health.
Air pollution is the release of any particles or noxious gases into the atmosphere, and can be natural (sea, soil, plants) or manmade (fossil fuel combustion). The weather dictates what will happen following emissions of gases: low winds can lead to particularly bad build ups. It is currently estimated one in five UK residents are at particularly high risk. The incidence of asthma in the UK has more than doubled in the past 15 years. London has long been infamous for its pollution; in December 1952 a dense fog covered Greater London for several days, resulting in a spike in mortality rates. This was due to a combination of the weather and high levels of emissions from power stations located in the city.
Find out more about the Exomars mission here
To join our mailing list and register your interest in using a sensor as part of this project please email us using the subject line “Amazing Atmospheres”.
- This project offers access to data and equipment. The first step is to return your signed agreement. You will then be issued with log-in details for our data server: timepix.researchinschools.org In addition, you will be able to make a request for detector but this is subject to availability.
- Based on detector availability and the data sets available, carry out some background research and set your research aims.
- If you have a detector, carry out your experiments and record your data. Please don’t forget to share this with IRIS. Complete your analysis using Excel, Tableau or ARCGIS (the latter two software packages are available for free to IRIS schools, see timepix.researchinschools.org for details) and share conclusions with IRIS through a written report or poster.