|Names||Phobos Sample Return Mission|
|Mission type||Technology demonstrattor, sample return|
|Operator||European Space Agency|
|Mission duration||3.5 years (planned)|
|Manufacturer||Airbus Defense and Space|
|Launch mass||4,200 kg (9,300 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||2024 (proposed)|
|Launch site||Guiana Space Centre|
|End of mission|
|Sample mass||800 g; return about 100 g (0.22 lb)|
The Phootprint mission is a candidate for the Mars Robotic Exploration Preparation Programme 2 (MREP-2) at ESA. During 2014, ESA funded a pre-phase A feasibility study and industrial system studies of 8-month duration. Currently, it is in phase A, meaning 'mission definition study.'
The mission is proposed to be launched on an Ariane 5 in 2024 with early 2026 as backup date. An Earth swingby would provide greater launcher margin. The spacecraft would orbit Mars for the characterisation phase, and when ready, it would maneuver into a quasi-satellite orbit to facilitate landing. Because of the low gravity, the lander would be anchored to the surface during sample collection and launch of the Earth Re-entry Capsule (ERC).
The top-level science goal is to understand the formation of the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos and put constraints on the evolution of the Solar System (co-formation, capture, impact ejecta).
The mission objectives are:
Mission engineers remark that "no rebound" after landing is a critical condition given the low-gravity environment of landing. Currently, engineers at ESA are leaning toward four cantilever-type landing legs with crushable aluminium honeycomb shock absorber and secondary load limiters.
The concept of the Phootprint spacecraft is still preliminary and composed by three modules:
As of 2014[update], the conceptual 30 kg (66.1 lb) payload is:
The proposed mission architecture is: