Examining the Martian Moons

The Mars-moon Exploration with GAmma rays and NEutrons (MEGANE) spectroscopy instrument will provide vital information on the composition of the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos.

About the Instrument

Instrument Type
Gamma-Ray and Neutron

The Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission is being developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The MMX spacecraft plans to visit the Martian moon Phobos, land on the surface, collect a surface sample and then deliver that sample to Earth. On behalf of NASA, APL is leading and building one of the spacecraft’s science instruments: a gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer named MEGANE (an acronym for Mars-moon Exploration with GAmma rays and NEutrons, pronounced “meh-gah-nay”), which will measure the elemental composition of Phobos. MEGANE’s compositional measurements will provide key information to help determine whether Phobos is a captured asteroid or the result of a larger body hitting Mars.

MEGANE Instrument
A detailed, 3D rendering of the MEGANE gamma-ray spectrometer (top left) and the neutron spectrometer (bottom right). They together will help determine the composition of the Martian moon Phobos and help determine its origin.

MEGANE builds on experience from the gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer (GRNS) on NASA’s MESSENGER mission to the planet Mercury and will utilize many aspects of the Psyche GRNS, which is in development for NASA’s Psyche mission.