The Mars Moons eXploration (MMX) mission is in development by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). MMX will visit the two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, land on the surface of Phobos, and collect a surface sample. Plans are for the sample to be returned to Earth in 2029. NASA is supporting the development of one of the spacecraft’s suite of seven science instruments.

The selected instrument, named MEGANE (pronounced meh-gah-nay, meaning “eyeglasses” in Japanese), will be developed by a team led by Lawrence. MEGANE will give MMX the ability to “see” the elemental composition of Phobos, by measuring the energies of gamma rays and neutrons emitted from the small moon. The elementary particles are emitted naturally as a result of high-energy cosmic rays that continually strike and penetrate the surface of Phobos.

MEGANE has three components:

  • Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS)
  • Neutron Spectrometer (NS)
  • Data Processing Unit (DPU)- electronics