(ORDO NEWS) — In 2024, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is about to launch a mission to explore Phobos and Deimos (Martian Moons eXploration, MMX).
It is planned that the spacecraft will fly around Deimos and land on Phobos, where it will take soil samples, which will then be delivered to Earth.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is going to send the MMX Rover to Phobos as part of a mission. This small wheeled vehicle weighing 25 kg will be “dropped” onto the surface of Phobos from a height of about 50 m.
The landing of the rover will be quite unusual. Since the rover will free-fall on Phobos after separation from the spacecraft, it will make several “tumbles” during landing and stop in an unpredictable position.
MMX Rover has to lift itself up with the help of a propulsion system and deploy its solar panels. Once on Phobos, he will use a radiometer and a Raman spectrometer.
Scientists aren’t sure if Phobos and Deimos are captured asteroids from the main belt or elsewhere in the solar system, or if they’re debris piles that formed on Mars.
Raman spectrometer will show the mineralogical composition of Phobos. The composition will tell scientists where this moon comes from.
For example, some elements are much more common in the inner solar system, while others only form beyond the frost line.
The rover’s radiometer will measure the power of the moon’s electromagnetic radiation. It will be tuned to the infrared spectrum and effectively measure the temperature of Phobos.
This will allow us to study the porosity of the moon. Scientists will be able to compare the obtained data with data on other bodies in the solar system, which will help to find out the origin of the moon.
The rover will also be equipped with four cameras: two for navigation and two for wheel tracking.
The crown of the mission will be the delivery of samples to Earth.
Due to the conditions on Phobos, the mission will only have 90 minutes to collect samples before dark, when the spacecraft leaves the surface. The rover will remain on Phobos.
If all goes well, the samples will end up on Earth in 2029.
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