Martian Moons Exploration
|Mission type||Sample return|
|Operator||ISAS / JAXA|
|Mission duration||~5 years (planned)|
|Dry mass||Propulsion module: 1,800 kg|
Exploration module: 150 k
Return module: 1,050 kg
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||September 2024 (planned)|
|Landing date||March 2025|
|Return launch||August 2028|
|Sample mass||≥10 g (0.35 oz)|
The Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) is a robotic space probe set for launch in 2024 to bring back the first samples from Mars' largest moon Phobos. Developed by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and announced in 9 June 2015, MMX will land and collect samples from Phobos once or twice, along with conducting Deimos flyby observations and monitoring Mars' climate.
The mission aims to provide key information to help determine whether the Martian moons are captured asteroids or the result of a larger body hitting Mars.
The spacecraft will enter orbit around Mars, then transfer to Phobos, and land once or twice and gather sand-like regolith particles using a simple pneumatic system. The lander mission aims to retrieve a minimum 10 g (0.35 oz) of samples. The spacecraft will then take off from Phobos and make several flybys of the smaller moon Deimos before sending the Sample Return Capsule back to Earth, arriving in July 2029.
The mission architecture uses three modules: propulsion module (1,800 kg), exploration module (150 kg) and the return module (1,050 kg). With the mass of Deimos and Phobos being too small to capture a satellite, it is not possible to orbit the Martian moons in the usual sense. However, orbits of a special kind, referred to as quasi-satellite orbits, can be sufficiently stable to allow many months of operations in the vicinity of the moon.
The mission leader is Yasuhiro Kawakatsu.
NASA, ESA, and CNES are also participating in the project, and will provide scientific instruments. The U.S. will contribute a neutron and gamma-ray spectrometer called MEGANE (an acronym for Mars-moon Exploration with GAmma rays and NEutrons, which also means "eyeglasses" in Japanese), and France (CNES) the Near IR Spectrometer (NIRS4/MacrOmega). France is also contributing expertise in flight dynamics to plan the mission's orbiting and landing manoeuvres.
- Gamma ray and Neutron Spectrometer (MEGANE) - developed by NASA, USA
- Wide Angle Multiband Camera (WAM)
- Near-Infrared Spectrometer (MacrOmega) - developed by CNES, France.
- Optical Radiometer composed of Chromatic Imagers (OROCHI)
- Telescopic Nadir Imager for Geomorphology (TENGOO)
- Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)
- Circum-Martian Dust Monitor (CMDM)
- Mass Spectrum Analyzer (MSA)
Additionally, the Gravity GradioMeter (GGM), Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS), Mission Survival Module (MSM) were proposed as additional instruments.
Following a study by the French CNES space agency, it was decided that the spacecraft will deliver a small rover provided by CNES and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The rover will be equipped with cameras, a radiometer, and a Raman spectrometer for in-situ surface exploration of the Martian moon.
For sample collection, the mission opted to use an air gun to puff pressurised gas, pushing about 10 grams of soil into the sample container. The spacecraft will then take off from Phobos and make several flybys of the smaller moon Deimos before sending the Sample Return Capsule back to Earth, arriving in July 2029.
- Proposed missions to Mars' moons
- Japanese mission of the two moons of Mars with sample return from Phobos. Hirdy Miyamoto, University of Tokyo. 2016.
- MMX Homepage. JAXA, 2017
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- Ozaki, Masanobu; Shiraishi, Hiroaki; Fujimoto, Masaki (5 January 2017). "火星衛星探査計画（MMX）の科学観測装置" (in Japanese). JAXA. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
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