Space Science Reviews

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Plasma Wave Investigation (PWI) Aboard BepiColombo Mio on the Trip to the First Measurement of Electric Fields, Electromagnetic Waves, and Radio Waves Around Mercury

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

The Plasma Wave Investigation (PWI) aboard the BepiColombo Mio (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, MMO) will enable the first observations of electric fields, plasma waves, and radio waves in and around the Hermean magnetosphere and exosphere. The PWI has two sets of receivers (EWO with AM2P, SORBET) connected to two electric field sensors (MEFISTO and WPT) and two magnetic field sensors (SCM: LF-SC and DB-SC). After the launch on October 20, 2018, we began initial operations, confirmed that all receivers were functioning properly, and released the launch locks on the sensors. Those sensors are not deployed during the cruising phase, but the PWI is still capable performing magnetic field observations. After full deployment of all sensors following insertion into Mercury orbit, the PWI will start its measurements of the electric field from DC to 10 MHz using two dipole antennae with a 32-m tip-to-tip length in the spin plane and the magnetic field from 0.3 Hz to 20 kHz using a three-axis sensor and from 2.5 kHz to 640 kHz using a single-axis sensor at the tip of a 4.5-m solid boom extended from the spacecraft’s side panel. Those receivers and sensors will provide (1) in-situ measurements of electron density and temperature that can be used to determine the structure and dynamics of the Hermean plasma environment; (2) in-situ measurements of the electron and ion scale waves that characterize the energetic processes governed by wave–particle interactions and non-MHD interactions; (3) information on radio waves, which can be used to remotely probe solar activity in the heliocentric sector facing Mercury, to study electromagnetic-energy transport to and from Mercury, and to obtain crustal information from reflected electromagnetic waves; and (4) information concerning dust impacts on the spacecraft body detected via potential disturbances. This paper summarizes the characteristics of the overall PWI, including its significance, its objectives, its expected performance specifications, and onboard and ground data processing. This paper also presents the detailed design of the receiver components installed in a unified chassis. The PWI in the cruise phase will observe magnetic-field turbulence during multiple flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury. After the Mercury-orbit insertion planned at the end of 2025, we will deploy all sensors and commence full operation while coordinating with all payloads onboard the Mio and MPO spacecraft.

PHEBUS on Bepi-Colombo: Post-launch Update and Instrument Performance

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

The Bepi-Colombo mission was launched in October 2018, headed for Mercury. This mission is a collaboration between Europe and Japan. It is dedicated to the study of Mercury and its environment. It will be inserted into Mercury orbit in December 2025 after a 7-year long cruise. Probing of Hermean Exosphere By Ultraviolet Spectroscopy (PHEBUS) is an ultraviolet Spectrograph and is one of the 11 instruments on-board the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO). It is dedicated to the study of the exosphere of Mercury, its composition, dynamics and variability and its interface with the surface of the planet and the solar wind. The PHEBUS instrument contains four distinct detectors covering the spectral range from 55 nm up to 315 nm and two additional narrow windows at 404 nm and 422 nm. It also has a one-degree of freedom mechanism that allows observations along a cone with an half angle of \(80^{\circ }\). This paper follows a detailed presentation of the PHEBUS instrument design that was presented by Chassefière et al. (Planet. Space Sci. 58:201–223, 2010).

Here we present an update of the science objectives and measurement requirements following the results published by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission. We also present results of the ground calibration campaigns of the flight unit that is currently on-board MPO.

In the last part, we present some details of the observations that will be performed during the cruise to Mercury, such as stellar observation campaigns, interplanetary background observations and planetary flybys.

Physical Processes in Star Formation

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Star formation is a complex multi-scale phenomenon that is of significant importance for astrophysics in general. Stars and star formation are key pillars in observational astronomy from local star forming regions in the Milky Way up to high-redshift galaxies. From a theoretical perspective, star formation and feedback processes (radiation, winds, and supernovae) play a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of the physical processes at work, both individually and of their interactions. In this review we will give an overview of the main processes that are important for the understanding of star formation. We start with an observationally motivated view on star formation from a global perspective and outline the general paradigm of the life-cycle of molecular clouds, in which star formation is the key process to close the cycle. After that we focus on the thermal and chemical aspects in star forming regions, discuss turbulence and magnetic fields as well as gravitational forces. Finally, we review the most important stellar feedback mechanisms.

The Physics of Star Cluster Formation and Evolution

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Star clusters form in dense, hierarchically collapsing gas clouds. Bulk kinetic energy is transformed to turbulence with stars forming from cores fed by filaments. In the most compact regions, stellar feedback is least effective in removing the gas and stars may form very efficiently. These are also the regions where, in high-mass clusters, ejecta from some kind of high-mass stars are effectively captured during the formation phase of some of the low mass stars and channeled into the latter to form multiple populations. Star formation epochs in star clusters are generally set by gas flows that determine the abundance of gas in the cluster. We argue that there is likely only one star formation epoch after which clusters remain essentially clear of gas by cluster winds. Collisional dynamics is important in this phase leading to core collapse, expansion and eventual dispersion of every cluster. We review recent developments in the field with a focus on theoretical work.

Rationale for BepiColombo Studies of Mercury’s Surface and Composition

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

BepiColombo has a larger and in many ways more capable suite of instruments relevant for determination of the topographic, physical, chemical and mineralogical properties of Mercury’s surface than the suite carried by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. Moreover, BepiColombo’s data rate is substantially higher. This equips it to confirm, elaborate upon, and go beyond many of MESSENGER’s remarkable achievements. Furthermore, the geometry of BepiColombo’s orbital science campaign, beginning in 2026, will enable it to make uniformly resolved observations of both northern and southern hemispheres. This will offer more detailed and complete imaging and topographic mapping, element mapping with better sensitivity and improved spatial resolution, and totally new mineralogical mapping.

We discuss MESSENGER data in the context of preparing for BepiColombo, and describe the contributions that we expect BepiColombo to make towards increased knowledge and understanding of Mercury’s surface and its composition. Much current work, including analysis of analogue materials, is directed towards better preparing ourselves to understand what BepiColombo might reveal. Some of MESSENGER’s more remarkable observations were obtained under unique or extreme conditions. BepiColombo should be able to confirm the validity of these observations and reveal the extent to which they are representative of the planet as a whole. It will also make new observations to clarify geological processes governing and reflecting crustal origin and evolution.

We anticipate that the insights gained into Mercury’s geological history and its current space weathering environment will enable us to better understand the relationships of surface chemistry, morphologies and structures with the composition of crustal types, including the nature and mobility of volatile species. This will enable estimation of the composition of the mantle from which the crust was derived, and lead to tighter constraints on models for Mercury’s origin including the nature and original heliocentric distance of the material from which it formed.

Simulations of Tidal Disruption Events

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Numerical simulations have historically played a major role in understanding the hydrodynamics of the tidal disruption process. Given the complexity of the geometry of the system, the challenges posed by the problem have indeed stimulated much work on the numerical side. Smoothed Particles Hydrodynamics methods, for example, have seen their very first applications in the context of tidal disruption and still play a major role to this day. Likewise, initial attempts at simulating the evolution of the disrupted star with the so-called affine method have been historically very useful. In this Chapter, we provide an overview of the numerical techniques used in the field and of their limitations, and summarize the work that has been done to simulate numerically the tidal disruption process.

Zooming in on Individual Star Formation: Low- and High-Mass Stars

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Star formation is a multi-scale, multi-physics problem ranging from the size scale of molecular clouds (\({\sim} 10\)s pc) down to the size scales of dense prestellar cores (\({\sim} 0.1\) pc) that are the birth sites of stars. Several physical processes like turbulence, magnetic fields and stellar feedback, such as radiation pressure and outflows, are more or less important for different stellar masses and size scales. During the last decade a variety of technological and computing advances have transformed our understanding of star formation through the use of multi-wavelength observations, large scale observational surveys, and multi-physics multi-dimensional numerical simulations. Additionally, the use of synthetic observations of simulations have provided a useful tool to interpret observational data and evaluate the importance of various physical processes on different scales in star formation. Here, we review these recent advancements in both high- (\(M \gtrsim 8~M_{\odot }\)) and low-mass star formation.

The MAVEN Radio Occultation Science Experiment (ROSE)

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

The Radio Occultation Science Experiment (ROSE) is part of the scientific payload of the Mars Atmosphere Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft. Here we motivate the science objectives of the MAVEN ROSE investigation, which are (1) to determine the vertical structure of plasma in the ionosphere and (2) to identify the density, altitude, and width of the ionospheric density peak. MAVEN ROSE achieves these science objectives by performing two-way X-band radio occultations. Data are acquired ingress and egress opportunities using the high-gain antenna and a carrier-only signal. They are also acquired on ingress opportunities using the low-gain antenna with telemetry on the signal. Raw data are processed to yield vertical profiles of the electron density in the ionosphere of Mars with an accuracy on the order of \(10^{9}\mbox{ m}^{-3}\), a vertical resolution on the order of 1 km, and a vertical range on the order of 100–500 km. Data products are archived at the NASA Planetary Data System. In order to ensure the reproducibility of the results of the MAVEN ROSE investigation, software programs to determine MAVEN ROSE electron density profiles from time series of frequency residuals accompany this article.

Furthermore, here we examine what the MAVEN ROSE observations reveal about the behavior of the ionosphere of Mars. Peak density, peak altitude, and total electron content mostly display the expected trends with solar zenith angle. However, deviations from those trends are present. Peak density at fixed dayside solar zenith angle can vary by 30% and M1 layer density at fixed solar zenith angle can vary even more. Solar irradiance variations are the most likely cause of these variations. Peak altitude at fixed dayside solar zenith angle can vary by 20 km or more. Thermospheric responses to lower atmospheric dust events are the most likely cause of these variations. Several instances of unusual ionospheric features are present in the dayside electron density profiles. A layer with density \(3 \times 10^{10}\mbox{ m}^{-3}\) that appears to occur at 60 km altitude may be a horizontally-confined region of larger density that actually occurs at higher altitudes. Significant changes in density over short vertical distances around 160 km altitude may be caused by ionospheric dynamics in the presence of strong crustal magnetic fields. Topside plasma layers around 200 km altitude may reflect sharp gradients in electron temperature.

Relict Ocean Worlds: Ceres

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to describe available evidence for the existence of relict ocean worlds. The focus is on Ceres as a clear example of such a world as indicated by the results from the Dawn mission. The sections of this chapter will also reflect the differences and commonalities with other recognized ocean worlds. We focus on Ceres as an example of relict ocean world and the implications it holds for the broader solar system. The presence of a large amount of water in the outer Solar System, the presence of low eutectic salts, and the similar pressure and temperature regimes at depth in icy moons and other dwarf planets suggest that many of these large icy worlds harbor or harbored deep oceans. Ceres is an example of relict Ocean world.

Exploring the Bimodal Solar System via Sample Return from the Main Asteroid Belt: The Case for Revisiting Ceres

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Sample return from a main-belt asteroid has not yet been attempted, but appears technologically feasible. While the cost implications are significant, the scientific case for such a mission appears overwhelming. As suggested by the “Grand Tack” model, the structure of the main belt was likely forged during the earliest stages of Solar System evolution in response to migration of the giant planets. Returning samples from the main belt has the potential to test such planet migration models and the related geochemical and isotopic concept of a bimodal Solar System.

Isotopic studies demonstrate distinct compositional differences between samples believed to be derived from the outer Solar System (CC or carbonaceous chondrite group) and those that are thought to be derived from the inner Solar System (NC or non-carbonaceous group). These two groups are separated on relevant isotopic variation diagrams by a clear compositional gap. The interface between these two regions appears to be broadly coincident with the present location of the asteroid belt, which contains material derived from both groups.

The Hayabusa mission to near-Earth asteroid (NEA) (25143) Itokawa has shown what can be learned from a sample-return mission to an asteroid, even with a very small amount of sample. One scenario for main-belt sample return involves a spacecraft launching a projectile that strikes an object and flying through the debris cloud, which would potentially allow multiple bodies to be sampled if a number of projectiles are used on different asteroids. Another scenario is the more traditional method of landing on an asteroid to obtain the sample.

A significant range of main-belt asteroids are available as targets for a sample-return mission and such a mission would represent a first step in mineralogically and isotopically mapping the asteroid belt. We argue that a sample-return mission to the asteroid belt does not necessarily have to return material from both the NC and CC groups to viably test the bimodal Solar System paradigm, as material from the NC group is already abundantly available for study. Instead, there is overwhelming evidence that we have a very incomplete suite of CC-related samples.

Based on our analysis, we advocate a dedicated sample-return mission to the dwarf planet (1) Ceres as the best means of further exploring inherent Solar System variation. Ceres is an ice-rich world that may be a displaced trans-Neptunian object. We almost certainly do not have any meteorites that closely resemble material that would be brought back from Ceres. The rich heritage of data acquired by the Dawn mission makes a sample-return mission from Ceres logistically feasible at a realistic cost. No other potential main-belt target is capable of providing as much insight into the early Solar System as Ceres. Such a mission should be given the highest priority by the international scientific community.

The Deep Composition of Uranus and Neptune from In Situ Exploration and Thermochemical Modeling

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

The distant ice giants of the Solar System, Uranus and Neptune, have only been visited by one space mission, Voyager 2. The current knowledge on their composition remains very limited despite some recent advances. A better characterization of their composition is however essential to constrain their formation and evolution, as a significant fraction of their mass is made of heavy elements, contrary to the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. An in situ probe like Galileo would provide us with invaluable direct ground-truth composition measurements. However, some of the condensibles will remain out of the grasp of a shallow probe. While additional constraints could be obtained from a complementary orbiter, thermochemistry and diffusion modeling can further help us to increase the science return of an in situ probe.

Chemical and Isotopic Composition Measurements on Atmospheric Probes Exploring Uranus and Neptune

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

So far no designated mission to either of the two ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, exists. Almost all of our gathered information on these planets comes from remote sensing. In recent years, NASA and ESA have started planning for future mission to Uranus and Neptune, with both agencies focusing their attention on orbiters and atmospheric probes. Whereas information provided by remote sensing is undoubtedly highly valuable, remote sensing of planetary atmospheres also presents some shortcomings, most of which can be overcome by mass spectrometers. In most studies presented to date a mass spectrometer experiment is thus a favored science instrument for in situ composition measurements on an atmospheric probe. Mass spectrometric measurements can provide unique scientific data, i.e., sensitive and quantitative measurements of the chemical composition of the atmosphere, including isotopic, elemental, and molecular abundances. In this review paper we present the technical aspects of mass spectrometry relevant to atmospheric probes. This includes the individual components that make up mass spectrometers and possible implementation choices for each of these components. We then give an overview of mass spectrometers that were sent to space with the intent of probing planetary atmospheres, and discuss three instruments, the heritage of which is especially relevant to Uranus and Neptune probes, in detail. The main part of this paper presents the current state-of-art in mass spectrometry intended for atmospheric probe. Finally, we present a possible descent probe implementation in detail, including measurement phases and associated expected accuracies for selected species.

Organic Matter in the Solar System—Implications for Future on-Site and Sample Return Missions

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Solar system bodies like comets, asteroids, meteorites and dust particles contain organic matter with different abundances, structures and chemical composition. This chapter compares the similarities and differences of the organic composition in these planetary bodies. Furthermore, these links are explored in the context of detecting the most pristine organic material, either by on-site analysis or sample return missions. Finally, we discuss the targets of potential future sample return missions, as well as the contamination controls that should be in place in order to successfully study pristine organic matter.

The Non-carbonaceous–Carbonaceous Meteorite Dichotomy

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

The isotopic dichotomy between non-carbonaceous (NC) and carbonaceous (CC) meteorites indicates that meteorite parent bodies derive from two genetically distinct reservoirs, which presumably were located inside (NC) and outside (CC) the orbit of Jupiter and remained isolated from each other for the first few million years of the solar system. Here we review the discovery of the NC–CC dichotomy and its implications for understanding the early history of the solar system, including the formation of Jupiter, the dynamics of terrestrial planet formation, and the origin and nature of Earth’s building blocks. The isotopic difference between the NC and CC reservoirs is probably inherited from the solar system’s parental molecular cloud and has been maintained through the rapid formation of Jupiter that prevented significant exchange of material from inside (NC) and outside (CC) its orbit. The growth and/or migration of Jupiter resulted in inward scattering of CC bodies, which accounts for the co-occurrence of NC and CC bodies in the present-day asteroid belt and the delivery of presumably volatile-rich CC bodies to the growing terrestrial planets. Earth’s primitive mantle, at least for siderophile elements like Mo, has a mixed NC–CC composition, indicating that Earth accreted CC bodies during the final stages of its growth, perhaps through the Moon-forming giant impactor. The late-stage accretion of CC bodies to Earth is sufficient to account for the entire budget of Earth’s water and highly volatile species.

Concerns of Organic Contamination for Sample Return Space Missions

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Analysis of organic matter has been one of the major motivations behind solar system exploration missions. It addresses questions related to the organic inventory of our solar system and its implication for the origin of life on Earth. Sample return missions aim at returning scientifically valuable samples from target celestial bodies to Earth. By analysing the samples with the use of state-of-the-art analytical techniques in laboratories here on Earth, researchers can address extremely complicated aspects of extra-terrestrial organic matter. This level of detailed sample characterisation provides the range and depth in organic analysis that are restricted in spacecraft-based exploration missions, due to the limitations of the on-board in-situ instrumentation capabilities. So far, there are four completed and in-process sample return missions with an explicit mandate to collect organic matter: Stardust and OSIRIS-REx missions of NASA, and Hayabusa and Hayabusa2 missions of JAXA. Regardless of the target body, all sample return missions dedicate to minimise terrestrial organic contamination of the returned samples, by applying various degrees or strategies of organic contamination mitigation methods. Despite the dedicated efforts in the design and execution of contamination control, it is impossible to completely eliminate sources of organic contamination. This paper aims at providing an overview of the successes and lessons learned with regards to the identification of indigenous organic matter of the returned samples vs terrestrial contamination.

What is the Oxygen Isotope Composition of Venus? The Scientific Case for Sample Return from Earth’s “Sister” Planet

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Venus is Earth’s closest planetary neighbour and both bodies are of similar size and mass. As a consequence, Venus is often described as Earth’s sister planet. But the two worlds have followed very different evolutionary paths, with Earth having benign surface conditions, whereas Venus has a surface temperature of 464 °C and a surface pressure of 92 bar. These inhospitable surface conditions may partially explain why there has been such a dearth of space missions to Venus in recent years.

The oxygen isotope composition of Venus is currently unknown. However, this single measurement (\(\Delta ^{17}\text{O}\)) would have first order implications for our understanding of how large terrestrial planets are built. Recent isotopic studies indicate that the Solar System is bimodal in composition, divided into a carbonaceous chondrite (CC) group and a non-carbonaceous (NC) group. The CC group probably originated in the outer Solar System and the NC group in the inner Solar System. Venus comprises 41% by mass of the inner Solar System compared to 50% for Earth and only 5% for Mars. Models for building large terrestrial planets, such as Earth and Venus, would be significantly improved by a determination of the \(\Delta ^{17}\text{O}\) composition of a returned sample from Venus. This measurement would help constrain the extent of early inner Solar System isotopic homogenisation and help to identify whether the feeding zones of the terrestrial planets were narrow or wide.

Determining the \(\Delta ^{17}\text{O}\) composition of Venus would also have significant implications for our understanding of how the Moon formed. Recent lunar formation models invoke a high energy impact between the proto-Earth and an inner Solar System-derived impactor body, Theia. The close isotopic similarity between the Earth and Moon is explained by these models as being a consequence of high-temperature, post-impact mixing. However, if Earth and Venus proved to be isotopic clones with respect to \(\Delta ^{17}\text{O}\), this would favour the classic, lower energy, giant impact scenario.

We review the surface geology of Venus with the aim of identifying potential terrains that could be targeted by a robotic sample return mission. While the potentially ancient tessera terrains would be of great scientific interest, the need to minimise the influence of venusian weathering favours the sampling of young basaltic plains. In terms of a nominal sample mass, 10 g would be sufficient to undertake a full range of geochemical, isotopic and dating studies. However, it is important that additional material is collected as a legacy sample. As a consequence, a returned sample mass of at least 100 g should be recovered.

Two scenarios for robotic sample return missions from Venus are presented, based on previous mission proposals. The most cost effective approach involves a “Grab and Go” strategy, either using a lander and separate orbiter, or possibly just a stand-alone lander. Sample return could also be achieved as part of a more ambitious, extended mission to study the venusian atmosphere. In both scenarios it is critical to obtain a surface atmospheric sample to define the extent of atmosphere-lithosphere oxygen isotopic disequilibrium. Surface sampling would be carried out by multiple techniques (drill, scoop, “vacuum-cleaner” device) to ensure success. Surface operations would take no longer than one hour.

Analysis of returned samples would provide a firm basis for assessing similarities and differences between the evolution of Venus, Earth, Mars and smaller bodies such as Vesta. The Solar System provides an important case study in how two almost identical bodies, Earth and Venus, could have had such a divergent evolution. Finally, Venus, with its runaway greenhouse atmosphere, may provide data relevant to the understanding of similar less extreme processes on Earth. Venus is Earth’s planetary twin and deserves to be better studied and understood. In a wider context, analysis of returned samples from Venus would provide data relevant to the study of exoplanetary systems.

Exploring Mars with Returned Samples

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

The international Mars Exploration community has been planning to return samples from Mars for many years; the next decade should see the plans becoming a reality. Mars Sample Return (MSR) requires a series of missions, first to collect the samples, then to return them to Earth, whilst preventing the contamination of both Earth and Mars. The first mission in the campaign, Mars 2020, will land at Jezero Crater in early 2021; samples should return to Earth sometime after 2032. The information to be derived from analysis of martian samples in terrestrial laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation is more than recompense for the difficulties of the MSR campaign. Results from analyses of returned samples will enable increased understanding of martian geological (and possibly biological) evolution. They will facilitate preparations for human exploration of Mars and by providing a second set of absolute ages for a planetary surface will validate (or otherwise) application of the lunar crater-age scale throughout the Solar System.

The Molecular Cloud Lifecycle

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Giant molecular clouds (GMCs) and their stellar offspring are the building blocks of galaxies. The physical characteristics of GMCs and their evolution are tightly connected to galaxy evolution. The macroscopic properties of the interstellar medium propagate into the properties of GMCs condensing out of it, with correlations between e.g. the galactic and GMC scale gas pressures, surface densities and volume densities. That way, the galactic environment sets the initial conditions for star formation within GMCs. After the onset of massive star formation, stellar feedback from e.g. photoionisation, stellar winds, and supernovae eventually contributes to dispersing the parent cloud, depositing energy, momentum and metals into the surrounding medium, thereby changing the properties of galaxies. This cycling of matter between gas and stars, governed by star formation and feedback, is therefore a major driver of galaxy evolution. Much of the recent debate has focused on the durations of the various evolutionary phases that constitute this cycle in galaxies, and what these can teach us about the physical mechanisms driving the cycle. We review results from observational, theoretical, and numerical work to build a dynamical picture of the evolutionary lifecycle of GMC evolution, star formation, and feedback in galaxies.

The Importance of Phobos Sample Return for Understanding the Mars-Moon System

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 00:00
Abstract

Phobos and Deimos occupy unique positions both scientifically and programmatically on the road to the exploration of the solar system. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans a Phobos sample return mission (MMX: Martian Moons eXploration). The MMX spacecraft is scheduled to be launched in 2024, orbit both Phobos and Deimos (multiple flybys), and retrieve and return >10 g of Phobos regolith back to Earth in 2029. The Phobos regolith represents a mixture of endogenous Phobos building blocks and exogenous materials that contain solar system projectiles (e.g., interplanetary dust particles and coarser materials) and ejecta from Mars and Deimos. Under the condition that the representativeness of the sampling site(s) is guaranteed by remote sensing observations in the geologic context of Phobos, laboratory analysis (e.g., mineralogy, bulk composition, O-Cr-Ti isotopic systematics, and radiometric dating) of the returned sample will provide crucial information about the moon’s origin: capture of an asteroid or in-situ formation by a giant impact. If Phobos proves to be a captured object, isotopic compositions of volatile elements (e.g., D/H, 13C/12C, 15N/14N) in inorganic and organic materials will shed light on both organic-mineral-water/ice interactions in a primitive rocky body originally formed in the outer solar system and the delivery process of water and organics into the inner rocky planets.

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