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Surface Science with the Cameras on the MMX Rover

Presentation #317.05 in the session Future Missions and Instrumentations - Rocky Bodies, Atmospheres (Poster)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Surface Science with the Cameras on the MMX Rover

Introduction: The JAXA Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission [1] has a primary objective to study the formation and origins of Phobos and Deimos. The MMX spacecraft will also deploy a CNES/DLR rover, to the surface of Phobos [2]. This rover will be the first of its kind to attempt wheeled-locomotion on a low-gravity surface. As such, this rover provides a unique opportunity to study not only the surface properties of Phobos, but also regolith dynamics on small-bodies. This information is valuable for understanding the surface processes and geological history of Phobos in addition to being of high importance to the landing (and sampling) operations of the main MMX spacecraft [1].

The MMX rover cameras: The rover includes two colour NavCams and two panchromatic WheelCams [2]. The cameras will be used for navigation, locomotion, and science. The NavCams are a stereo pair looking in the driving direction, the WheelCams are placed on the underside of the rover, each aimed at a different rover wheel. For the NavCams, the spatial resolution is about ∼ 1 mm per pixel at a distance of 1 m. The WheelCams have a pixel resolution of approximately 100 μm at the centre of the image (at a distance of ~35 cm). The WheelCams are also equipped with LEDs to illuminate the scene and to allow for multispectral imaging.

Science objective: By imaging the surface, the NavCams and WheelCams will allow the local geomorphology of the terrain to be constrained as well as the level of heterogeneity of the regolith in terms of composition, space weathering alteration and texture (size frequency distribution of boulders). The images from both cameras will be used to characterize the general grain properties of the regolith (size distribution, morphological parameters [3,4]) within the limits of the camera resolution.

Conclusions: This presentation will discuss how the rover cameras are expected to achieve the surface science objectives of the MMX rover.

Acknowledgments: We acknowledge CNES funding and thank all the project team. References: [1] Kuramoto, K. et al. EPS (2022), [2] Michel et al., EPS (2022), [3] Robin, C. et al., ACM 2023, [4] Duchêne, A. et al.,

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