Satellite project M-MATISSE selected for Phase A
The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected three final satellite projects for the new medium-class mission (M7): M-Matisse, Plasma Observatory, and Theseus. Based on detailed studies in the upcoming Phase A, one project will be chosen for realization, with a planned launch scheduled for post-2035.
Experts from the Department of Surface and Plasma Science at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University are participating in the M-Matisse (Mars-Magnetosphere ATmosphere Ionosphere and Space-weather SciencE) project. The project consists of two spacecraft dedicated to studying the closest space environment of Mars and its interaction with the solar wind. The experts are contributing to the development of two instruments within large international consortia: the instrument for magnetic and plasma measurements COMPASS (Combined Magnetic and Plasma Sensor Suite) in cooperation with the Astronomical Institute and the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences) and the instrument for detection of energetic particles SP@M (Solar Particles at Mars).
Data from the two M-Matisse spacecraft will enhance our understanding of the evolution of the Martian atmosphere, its climate, and space weather, which are essential with regard to potential future human missions to the planet. This initiative marks the first spacecraft project to provide systematic two-point measurements around Mars. Such measurements are necessary to distinguish between spatial and temporal variations of analyzed phenomena, as well as to study changes that occur at short spatial/temporal scales. The significantly eccentric spacecraft orbits will allow the study of the Martian environment across a wide range of distances, from the lower ionospheric layers to the solar wind.