The PhoDEx (Phobos and Deimos Explorer) mission was proposed to ESA’s Cosmic Vision program in 2014. PhoDEx was planned to be launched on a Soyuz Fregat in 2024 or 2026, to explore the origin and evolution of Phobos and Deimos, as well as their interactions with the environments. The design of PhoDEx employs variety of complementary techniques to study interior structures, chemical and mineralogical compositions of the two Martian companions.
When arriving in the Martian system the spacecraft would first rendezvous with Deimos before proceeding to Phobos. At the two satellites, comprehensive mapping and characterization for morphology phases, gravity field measurements, and studies of their spectral and thermal soil characteristics are planned. Crater statistics can be used to determine the ages of surface geographic units and time scales of geological processes. A powerful short-wave radar explores the global regolith structure. Interacton of the solar wind interaction with the surfaces is monitored by dedicated sensors to help to understand the evolution of regolith and space weathering. Using impact detectors on the spacecraft, we wish to identify sources and sinks of the micrometeoroid population and address the question of postulated Phobos/Deimos dust rings.
PhoDEx spacecraft track in a so-called quasi-orbit about Phobos over 1 month
The deployment of an experiment platform in the polar areas of Phobos for an operation through the summer season of more than 3 months is carried out. The package is equipped with a high-performance LIBS/Raman sensor to obtain precise data on the chemistry and mineralogy of Phobos soils at the landing site. A seismometer will capture seismic signals from impacts and thermal quakes. A radio science experiment will provide accurate measurements of Phobos orbital motion and rotational librations to determine the time scales of Phobos’ orbital decay.
PhoDEx provides a new picture of the Martian satellites, which have been identified as crucial stop-points in support of future human missions to Mars. The PhoDEx mission also improves our deep understanding of other planetary systems.