PHOBOS-GRUNT mockup, scale 1:1
PHOBOS-GRUNT is a RosCosmos, russian space agency, mission
PHOBOS-GRUNT mission main objectives are to determine the origine and the evolution of Phobos.
Gas Analytic Package, Manipulator Instruments Set, Gamma Spectrometer, Neutron Spectrometer, InfraRed Spectrometer, Laser TOF Mass Spectrometer, Secondary Ions Mass Spectrometer, Thermal Sensor, Long-wave penetrating Radar, Seismometer, TV cameras, Optical Spectrometer, Dust counter, Plasma Science Package, Solar sensor, Ultra Stable Oscillator
Lifetime : 2 years

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Project main steps


The Russian space agency (RosCosmos) selected PHOBOS-GRUNT mission as first priority for its scientific space programme to explore one of the two moons (Phobos) of the planete MARS. PHOBOS-GRUNT mission was a technological demonstrator designed to test the possibility to land and take-off of Phobos, including a sample return on Earth.

PHOBOS-GRUNT mission should have enabled to realise in-situ observations with an important payload which should operates on the surface for one year. Moreover, it should have collected samples (about 200g) which would have been sent back on Earth for very precise analyses.

The mission main objectives were to solve the following interogations:

  • the origine of Phobos (and probably of Deimos) in relation with the study of the primitive matter,
  • its evolution in relation with Mars,
  • the role of the asteroids impacts in the formation of the planets and in the evolution of their atmosphere, their crust and in the inventory of the volatil elements.

The French contributions to the instruments of the mission concerned:

  • the instrumental suite GAP (Gas Analytic Package) which will be the main mean to characterize the molecular soil composition. It were constituted of:
    • a Pyrolyser - Thermal-Differential Analyzer (TDA),
    • a Laser Spectrometer (TDLAS),
    • a Mass-Spectrometer (MS),
    • a Gas-Chromatograph (GC).
  • the supply of cameras:
    • two panoramic cameras (PANCAM) at the end of each arm,
    • a pair of stereoscopic cameras (STEREO PAIR),
    • a visible microscope (MICROMEGA VIS).
  • the supply of an infrared microscope (MICROMEGA IR),
  • the participation to the development of TIMM 2 instrument,
  • the participation to the conception of the Planetary Ion Sensor.

The Groupe Spectrométrie Moléculaire et Atmosphérique (GSMA), of the University of Reims, contributed to the realisation of the Laser Spectrometer (GAP-TDLAS: Tunable Diode Laser Absorption Spectrometer). The IAS supplied the cameras as well as the visible microscope. It supplied, in the first quarter of 2011, the IR microscope with the participation of the LESIA and IKI. The LATMOS, located near Paris, contributed to the realisation of the gas chromatographe (GAP-GC).

CNES insured, for all national partners (laboratories), the prime contractorship for the French instrument contributions to PHOBOS-GRUNT.

Latest update 30/01/2014
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The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft did not perform its scheduled burn to begin its trajectory to Mars and could not leave Earth orbit. It re-entered Earth's atmosphere on January 15, 2012
Failure post-launch
Movie presenting PHOBOS-GRUNT mission
Movie presenting Phobos-Grunt mission
(MP4 format, ~53 Mb)
Interview Francis Rocard
Phobos-Grunt: Round-trip from Earth to Phobos
(in French)
Mars Express flyby of Phobos and observe again PHOBOS-GRUNT possible landing sites
PHOBOS-GRUNT : destination Mars in 2011
PHOBOS-GRUNT spacecraft launch is postponed until october 2011.
Podcasts Ciel&Espace
Phobos-Grunt and Curiosity journey to Mars
1st part - 2nd part
(in French)