Press Release

NASA Hosts MEGANE Instrument Principal Investigator, Media Invited

By SpaceRef Editor
May 29, 2018
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Media are invited to hear from David Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland May 30 at 9:30 a.m. at the National Space Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lawrence is the principal investigator for NASA’s recently selected science instrument for an upcoming Japan-led sample return mission to the moons of Mars planned for launch in 2024. The instrument, a sophisticated gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer, will help scientists resolve one of the most enduring mysteries of the Red Planet — when and how the small moons formed.

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.

Lawrence will answer questions on the mission and what scientists hope to learn from the moon Phobos. Media interested in attending should contact Shannon Ridinger in the Office of Communications at 256-541-7698 no later than 4 p.m. May 29.

MEGANE will be developed under NASA’s Discovery Program, which provides frequent, low-cost access to space using principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at Headquarters in Washington. The Discovery Program is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama for SMD, which conducts a wide variety of research and scientific exploration programs for Earth studies, space weather, the solar system and universe.

For more information about the Discovery Program, visit:
https://planetarymissions.nasa.gov/

For information about NASA and space science, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/index.html

Press Contacts

Shannon Ridinger
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama
256-541-7698
shannon.j.ridinger@nasa.gov

SpaceRef staff editor.