MIRS is the scientific instrument supplied by France, a near-infrared imaging spectrometer on the main body of the MMX probe. Its name stands for MMX InfraRed Spectrometer. Activated for observation phases from Mars orbit, like during approaches to collect samples, MIRS will be tasked with identifying minerals on the surface of Phobos and Deimos from their spectral signature. The instrument will collect light reflected from the surface of Mars’ moons to determine the nature of minerals according to absorbed wavelengths.
By mapping the distribution of minerals (rocks, degree of hydration, organic matter), MIRS will be especially valuable during the first quasi-orbit phase of the MMX mission around Phobos to select sample collection sites on the basis of mineralogical analysis. Data resolution will be unprecedented, ranging from 20 metres during initial observations to 1 metre when the probe sets down on the surface. MIRS will also be pointed towards Mars’ atmosphere to use its sensing frequency bands (CO2 and H2O) to identify the onset of dust storms and the presence of clouds.
MIRS draws on expertise and lessons learned from the VIRTIS spectrometers on other missions, notably Rosetta, Venus Express and ESA’s proposed Marco Polo mission. Development of the instrument is being led by the LESIA space and astrophysics instrumentation research laboratory attached to the French national scientific research centre CNRS and the Paris Observatory.
CNES is overseeing development of the MIRS instrument and supplying the infrared detector coupled to a cryogenic machine and to the instrument’s scanning mechanism. The agency is also providing spaceflight dynamics support to define and optimize MIRS observations for Phobos, Deimos and Mars.