Eleven scientific instruments will be onboard the MMX spacecraft. Seven instruments are dedicated to remote sensing and in-situ observation of the Martian moons, two are sampling mechanisms for collecting material from the moon surface, and two instruments are designed to test and develop exploration technology. Four of these instruments and the MMX rover are being developed by overseas institutes.
Remote Sensing and In-Situ Observation
In addition to collecting samples, MMX will also perform remote sensing of Mars and its moons using a suite of observational instruments. It remains unclear how the two small Martian moons were formed and what processes they have since experienced. The surface of Phobos seen in visible and near infrared light is not uniform, leading to the possibility that there are different constituent materials. Discussions are being held by Japanese and international scientists to determine where the samples should be collected. Observational data obtained by the remote sensing instruments will also be used in this task to determine the sampling locations.
TENGOO / OROCHI
TENGOO stands for “TElescopic Nadir imager for GeOmOrphology”.
This is a telescopic (narrow angle) camera for observing the detailed terrain on the surface of the Martian moons. TENGOO can capture surface images at a resolution of about 40cm and obtain information on the distribution of different materials that correspond to the collected samples. It can also be used for checking safety at the planned landing site.
OROCHI stands for “Optical RadiOmeter composed of CHromatic Imagers”.
This is a wide angle camera to observe the topography and material compositions on the Martian moon surface. It can take images in the visible light reflected from the Martian moon's surface at multiple wavelengths to identify hydrated materials and organic matter, both globally and at the sampling locations.
Rikkyo University, Professor
Speciality: Planetary physics
I have previously been involved in the development of the cameras onboard the asteroid explorer Hayabusa2, and the Mercury spacecraft, Mio. I hope to make use of the experience gained with these Solar System explorers to ensure the MMX cameras reach their best and highest performance.
LIDAR stands for “Light Detection And Ranging”.
This is a ranging instrument to observe information on the shape of the Martian moon surface. LIDAR uses a laser to reflect light from the moon's surface. The surface altitude and albedo distribution can be derived from measuring the time taken for reflected light to return, and the energy of the reflected light.
Chiba Institute of Technology, Senior Fellow
The laser altimeter continuously measures the altitude of the spacecraft, which is changing continuously. The data obtained is a series of numbers, which is not as spectacular as a camera image, but it is interesting because it is acquired over a long period of time with high accuracy. Every day, I think hard about how to make this data exciting for as many people as possible.
MIRS stands for “MMX InfraRed Spectrometer”.
This is a near-infrared observation instrument to clarify the characteristics of minerals constituting the Martian moon. With spectroscopic measurements in near-infrared light in the 0.9 - 3.6 microns spectral band, MIRS can measure the distribution of hydrous minerals, water related substances and any organic matter over the whole surface and be used for the selection of sampling locations. MIRS is being developed at LESIA-Paris Observatory in collaboration with four other French laboratories (LAB, LATMOS, LAM, IRAP-OMP) and in partnership with the French space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).
Maria Antonietta Barucci
Laboratoire d'Etudes Spatiales et d'Instrumentation en Astrophysique, Professor
Speciality: Exploration of small bodies
After my deep involvement in Cassini-Huygens, Rosetta, BepiColombo, OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2, I am particularly proud to participate in MMX, contributing with the imaging spectrometer MIRS for this exciting mission. MIRS will detect mineral and organic compounds present on Phobos and Deimos, contributing to understanding their nature and origin. MIRS will also investigate the processes of the evolution of the Mars environment. My challenge is to make known what it is unknown.
MEGANE stands for "Mars-moon Exploration with GAmma rays and NEutrons".
MEGANE is a gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer that will measure which chemical elements that comprise Phobos. The gamma-rays and neutrons detected by MEGANE are generated by cosmic rays that continually bombard Phobos's surface, and from natural radioactivity in the moon's surface rocks. MEGANE's compositional measurements will provide key information to help determine the origin of Phobos, study surface processes on Phobos, and support site selection for the collection of samples by the MMX spacecraft, providing critical context for those samples. MEGANE is being developed in partnership with the US space agency, NASA.
David J. Lawrence
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Planetary Scientist
Speciality: Physics; planetary and space science
The MEGANE team is very pleased to participate in the MMX mission, and bring our experience in planetary gamma-ray and neutron spectroscopy to help us all understand fascinating questions about Mars’s moon Phobos. We look forward to our continued work with our engineering and scientific colleagues on this exciting mission.
CMDM stands for “Circum-Martian Dust Monitor”.
This is a device for clarifying the dust environment around the Martin moon. By measuring the dust abundance of 10 μm or more in size, the frequency of collision of celestial bodies that generate dust and the phenomenon of dust reintegration on Martian moons can be investigated.
Planetary Exploration Research Center Chiba Institute of Technology Senior Staff Scientist
Speciality: Planetary exploration
I am extremely excited to be able to participate in the MMX mission. We are aiming to discover the Martian circulation dust that has been theoretically predicted for many years but has not been found yet. Although there is a long way to go before we get to the goal, we try our best.
MSA stand for “Mass Spectrum Analyzer”.
This is an instrument to clarify the ion environment around the Martian moon. The presence of ice inside the Martian moon, the weathering effect on the Martian moon surface, and the amount of Martian atmosphere dissipation can be investigated by measuring ions released from the Martian moon, ions released from Mars, and the ions in the solar wind.
Osaka University, Associate Professor
Speciality: Planetary Science We are fortunate to be part of the MMX project as the MSA team. In addition to our previous observations around Earth and Mercury, we hope to achieve observations of charged particles and magnetic fields around Mars and Phobos.
The MMX rover will land on Phobos before the main spacecraft, and explore the surface of the Martian moon. These explorations will reveal a variety of physical properties about the surface regolith, which will reduce risk during spacecraft landing and sampling operations, as well as acquire valuable calibration data for scientific observations. The MMX rover is being jointly developed by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Head of Project ROVER MMX at CNES
Speciality: Space exploration We're very proud to be taking part in the incredible MMX mission, which will deliver the MMX Rover to Phobos. It's a long way to Phobos and we will do our best to be able to go a long way on Phobos also. We hope that the data collected by the rover will help scientists to analyze the composition and mechanical characteristics of Phobos's regolith.
Sampling and Return
The MMX spacecraft has two different mechanisms for collecting material from Phobos (C-Sampler and P-Sampler) to ensure that the mission brings back the best possible sample to laboratories on Earth. The collected samples are stored in the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) that will make the re-entry journey through the Earth's atmosphere to bring these pieces of the Martian moon safely home.
The C (corer) Sampler aims to collect subsurface material from the Martian moon down to a depth of 2cm. The sampler consists of a robotic arm and cylindrical corer designed to drive through the surface regolith on Phobos and safely store a core soil tube in the sample return capsule.
The P (pneumatic) sampler uses pressurised gas to loft material from the surface of the Martian moon into the sample container in a fraction of a second. The P-Sampler is being contributed to the MMX spacecraft by NASA and has been fabricated by Honeybee Robotics in Altadena, California.
Vice President of Exploration Systems Division at Honeybee Robotics
Speciality: Space mining and drilling, sample acquisition and handling, In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU)
We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the MMX mission and help with bringing Phobos and Martian samples back, for a first time in human history. Our pneumatic mining technology has been in development for over two decades and we are very fortunate that NASA and JAXA has selected it for this mission. Go MMX!
The Sample Return Capsule (SRC) will store the samples collected from the Martian moon by the C-Sampler and P-Sampler and pass through the Earth's atmosphere to bring the samples back to the Earth's surface.
Research, Test and Operation Technology Group Manager, JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS)
Speciality: thermal protection system, aerodynamics I am very proud to be able to participate in the MMX mission. I will do my best to ensure that the valuable samples from the Martian moon surface can be brought back to Earth safely and reliably.
Exploration Technology Acquisition
The MMX spacecraft will also carry a radiation monitor and two high resolution cameras aimed at developing technology needed for the future exploration of the Martian sphere.
The Interplanetary Radiation Environment Monitor (IREM) will measure the space radiation environment and acquire the energy spectrum of high-energy protons (solar energetic particles: SEPs) generated from events such as solar flares. Measuring the background radition environment around Mars is important for the safety of future crewed missions, and to establish methods for exposure dose evaluation.
Senior Researcher, Space Environment and Materials Section, Research Unit 1, Research and Development Directorate, JAXA
Specialty: Materials Science and Engineering for Spacecraft I would like to contribute towards the progress of space exploration in future.
Two Super Hi-Vision (SHV) cameras are being developed in collaboration with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) to capture Mars and the Martian moons at 8K and 4K resolution. These photographs will become the highest definition images ever captured of the system, allowing this exciting mission to be brought to life for a wide audience.
Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), Engineering Administration Department, Expert
Speciality: Broadcast cameras We are very pleased to be participating in the MMX mission and to equip the spacecraft with NHK’s 8K/4K cameras. We will work on the camera development so that we can deliver to everyone ultra-high definition images of the Martian sphere that no one has seen before.