Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies


Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies (MA-MISS)
OperatorEuropean Space Agency
Instrument typespectrometer
Mission duration≥ 7 months[1]
WebsiteExoMars Rover Instrument Suite
Spectral bandVisible and NIR
Host spacecraft
SpacecraftRosalind Franklin rover
OperatorEuropean Space Agency
Launch dateAugust–October 2022[2]
Launch siteBaikonur

Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies (MA-MISS) is a miniaturized imaging spectrometer designed to provide imaging and spectra by reflectance in the near-infrared (NIR) wavelength region and determine the mineral composition and stratigraphy. The instrument is part of the science payload on board the European Rosalind Franklin rover,[3] tasked to search for biosignatures, and scheduled to land on Mars in spring 2023. MA-MISS is essentially inside a drill on the Rover, and will take measurements of the sub-surface directly.

MA-MISS will help on the search for biosignatures by studying minerals and ices in situ before the collection of samples. The instrument is integrated within the Italian core drill system called DEEDRI, and it will be dedicated to in situ studies of the mineralogy inside the excavated holes in terms of visible and infrared spectral reflectance.[4]

The Principal Investigator is Maria Cristina De Sanctis, from the INAF (Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica) in Italy.[5]


MA-MISS Parameter/units[6][7]
*NIR: 0.4-2.2 µm
Focal distance between
window and sample
< 1 mm
Spatial resolution 0.1 mm
Bore hole ≈1 cm diameter

The instrument is based on the design conceived by planetary scientist Angioletta Coradini in 2001.[5][8] MA-MISS is integrated in the Rosalind Franklin rover 2-metre DEEDRI core drill and shares its structure and electronics. It will perform visible and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) in the 0.4 to 2.2 μm range of the excavated borehole wall. [5][6]

A 5 watt lamp and an optical fiber array will provide the illumination of the target (about 100 μm spot) as well as collect the scattered light from the target. An optical fiber carries the light to the spectrometer.[6]

It will be operated periodically during the pauses of the drilling activity and will also be able to provide images of the hole wall by a sapphire window connected to an array of optical fibres.[6][7] MA-MISS will provide important information about mineralogy, petrology, and geological processes of sedimentary materials of the Martian subsurface.[7] It will also give insights about materials that have not been altered by surface processes such as erosion, weathering or oxidation.[6]

The instrument is noted for its location inside the drill where it will have close contact with the Martian sub-surface.[9] There is a window on the side of the drill, and as the drill turns it can take measurements around the circumference of the bore hole.[9]


The ExoMars programme is an astrobiology project focused on the search for biosignatures in the subsurface of Mars, and to better understand the geological evolution and habitability of Mars. The study of the Martian subsurface will provide important constraints on the nature, timing and duration of alteration and sedimentation processes on Mars, as well as on the complex interactions between the surface and the atmosphere. The stated objectives of the MA-MISS experiment are: [4]

  • Determine the composition of subsurface materials.
  • Map the distribution of subsurface water and CO
  • Characterize grain size.
  • Reconstruct a stratigraphic column for clues on subsurface geological processes.


  1. ^ Vago, Jorge L.; et al. (July 2017). "Habitability on Early Mars and the Search for Biosignatures with the ExoMars Rover". Astrobiology. 17 (6–7): 471–510. Bibcode:2017AsBio..17..471V. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1533. PMC 5685153. PMID 31067287.
  2. ^ "N° 6–2020: ExoMars to take off for the Red Planet in 2022" (Press release). ESA. 12 March 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  3. ^ Howell, Elizabeth (July 24, 2018). "ExoMars: Searching for Life on Mars". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Ma_MISS on ExoMars: Mineralogical Characterization of the Martian Subsurface. Maria Cristina De Sanctis, Francesca Altieri, Eleonora Ammannito, David Biondi, Simone De Angelis, Marco Meini, Giuseppe Mondello, Samuele Novi, Riccardo Paolinetti, Massimo Soldani, Raffaele Mugnuolo, Simone Pirrotta, Jorge L. Vago. Astrobiology, Vol. 17, No. 6-7. 1 July 2017. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1541.
  5. ^ a b c The ExoMars Rover Instrument Suite: Ma_MISS - Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies. European Space Agency. Accessed: 20 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e VNIR spectral measurements on rock slabs with ExoMars Ma_Miss instrument. S. De Angelis, M.C. De Sanctis, E. Ammannito, C. Carli, T. Di Iorio, A. Frigeri, P. Manzari. EPSC Abstracts. Vol. 9, EPSC2014-243, 2014. European Planetary Science Congress 2014.
  7. ^ a b c MA_MISS: Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies. De Sanctis, M. C.; Coradini, A.; Ammannito, E.; Boccaccini, A.; Di Iorio, T.; Battistelli, E.; Capanni, A. EGU General Assembly 2012, held 22-27 April, 2012 in Vienna, Austria. pg. 6592.
  8. ^ MA MISS: Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies. (PDF) A. Coradini, G. Piccioni, etal. Adv. Space Res. Vol. 28, No. 8, pp. 1203-1208, 2001.
  9. ^ a b "The ExoMars Rover Instrument Suite". Retrieved 2018-07-21.