The UV environment on Mars remains an unmeasured quantity, requiring in situ instrumentation on planetary landers. UV radiation plays a major role in a range of situations, such as the photochemistry of upper atmospheres, creation of surface oxidation environments and damage to biological organisms.
A special lightweight version of the AvaSpec miniature spectrometer (~100 g) which is in the process of development for future surface missions to Mars, aimed at measuring the UV-VIS spectrum encountered at the Martian surface.
Responsivity of the AvaSpec covers the wavelength range 200-800 nm, with a resolution of 1.5 nm. At present, great uncertainty lies in the derivation of optical properties of suspended dust in the Martian atmosphere at UV wavelengths, and these parameters are required for accurate modeling of the transfer of UV to the surface in astro-biological investigations. This instrument will provide surface spectra ranging from the UV to visible, thus allowing the derivation of optical properties across a wide region of wavelength. The expected launch date will be in 2013 as part of the ExoMars mission to Mars.