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Mars-Moons Exploration, Reconnaissance, and Landed Investigation (MERLIN)

Murchie, Scott L. and Ehlmann, Bethany L. (2016) Mars-Moons Exploration, Reconnaissance, and Landed Investigation (MERLIN). In: 2016 IEEE Aerospace Conference. IEEE , Piscataway, NJ, pp. 1-18. ISBN 978-1-4673-7676-1.

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MERLIN, the Mars-Moons Exploration, Reconnaissance and Landed Investigation, is a concept for the first mission to land on the Martian moon Phobos and the first U.S. mission to conduct an in situ investigation of a D-type body typical of the outer solar system. Understanding Phobos and Deimos provides key information for understanding the history and evolution of our solar system and drives MERLIN's combined orbital and landed mission design. MERLIN would perform 9 months of orbital reconnaissance of Phobos and Deimos, characterizing their geology and a landing site on Phobos. Once landed, MERLIN would perform 90 days of complementary measurements of chemical and mineralogic composition. Phobos' size and mass provide a low-risk landing environment for a small-body lander. Controlled descent is so slow that the landing can be rehearsed and even repeated, yet gravity is high enough that surface operations do not require anchoring. Imaging of Phobos from past missions demonstrates the existence of regions suitable for landing and provides knowledge for planning the orbital and landed investigations. MERLIN's dual orbital and landed data would deliver seminal science directly traceable to NASA's Strategic Goals and Objectives, NASA's Science Plan, and Decadal Survey goals, while simultaneously closing strategic knowledge gaps (SKGs) to prepare for future human exploration. MERLIN's landed compositional measurements would unravel the origin of Mars' moons, addressing the goal to understand how solar system objects formed and evolved. MERLIN would determine the inventory of prebiotic materials on Phobos, addressing the goal focused on the distribution of volatiles and organics across the solar system, and the origin and requirements of life. MERLIN's high-resolution images during low flyovers would investigate processes that affect the local regolith and provide geologic context for landed measurements. MERLIN would characterize the geology, surface regolith, and internal structure of Mars' moons, addressing the goal to understand processes that shape planetary bodies, and how those processes operate and interact. MERLIN's combined remote and landed investigations would deliver pioneering data about Phobos, characterizing an object on the flexible path for human exploration.

Item Type:Book Section
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URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Murchie, Scott L.0000-0002-1616-8751
Ehlmann, Bethany L.0000-0002-2745-3240
Additional Information:© 2016 IEEE.
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160902-082314474
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Official Citation:S. L. Murchie et al., "Mars-Moons Exploration, Reconnaissance, and Landed Investigation (MERLIN)," 2016 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, 2016, pp. 1-18. doi: 10.1109/AERO.2016.7500754 URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:70138
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:02 Sep 2016 16:33
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:24

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