Science and Technology

Professor Zita Martins chosen to lead the scientific community of the Ariel mission

The Técnico alumna and professor was appointed by ESA to the position of Community Scientist of the Ariel Science Team.

The Técnico professor (DEQ) and researcher at Centro de Química Estrutural (CQE) Zita Martins, was appointed by the European Space Agency (ESA) to the position of Community Scientist of the Ariel Science Team. Scheduled to be launched in 2029, this is ESA’s first mission dedicated to measuring the chemical composition and thermal structures of hundreds of transiting exoplanets, enabling planetary science far beyond the boundaries of the Solar System.

The astrobiologist will have an “active voice” and will be at the forefront, being part of a restricted group, working directly with ESA. “As a Community Scientist, I will represent the scientific community of Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences internationally, and I will advise ESA on the best way to use the data resulting from the future Ariel space mission”, explains professor Zita Martins. “It is a huge prestige for me and for Portugal”, she shares.

Portugal had already a relevant position on this mission through researchers from the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA). The selection of professor Zita Martins, reinforces the Portuguese participation in Ariel. “My selection as Community Scientist will contribute to highlight the Portuguese participation, and demonstrates that Portuguese scientists are among the best in the world, particularly in the space sector”, stresses professor Zita Martins.

The Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL) space telescope will operate in visible and infrared wavelengths and is planned for launch on ESA’s new Ariane 6 rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

For a select number of planets, Ariel will also perform a deep survey of their cloud systems and study seasonal and daily atmospheric variations.

The Técnico professor will also participate in the Comet Interceptor mission.