PANDORA - Exploring the Early Solar System, by way of the Moons of Mars

Monday, 15 December 2014
Serina Diniega1, Carol A Raymond1 and Thomas H Prettyman2, (1)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)Planetary Science Institute, Albuquerque, NM, United States
After 40 years of spacecraft exploration of the Martian system, the origin of Phobos and Deimos remains a vexing mystery. Are they captured asteroids, detritus from Mars’ formation, or reaccreted impact ejecta from Mars? Using only orbital measurements, the Phobos ANd Deimos ORigin Assessment (PANDORA) Mission being proposed to the 2014 NASA Discovery AO, plans to measure the elemental make-up of both moons and create high-resolution global maps of composition and surface morphology and structure. In particular, PANDORA would investigate the characteristics and distribution of the “red” and “blue” units prominent on Phobos, with the goal of identifying which units represent original material or which may be exogenic contamination. PANDORA will compare the composition of Phobos and Deimos to determine if they have a common origin. After identifying appropriate material representative of their bulk composition, careful analysis of the mineralogical and elemental composition of this material would allow us to discriminate between the formation hypotheses for each Moon. Determining the provenance of these Moons of Mars will shed light on fundamental Solar System processes.