How to Find Asteroids

The MMX near infrared spectrometer, called MacrOmega, is based on acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) technology, which uses an ultrasonic wave transmitted through a crystal to permit only light of a specific wavelength to pass through. By changing the frequency of the ultrasonic wave in steps, the wavelength measured by MacrOmega is changed as well, building up a hyperspectral image cube containing both spatial and spectral information about the moon. This technology has been used in several currently operating space instruments, including SPICAM on Mars Express and MicrOmega on Hayabusa 2, and offers many advantages over other spectrometer technologies, including the ability to operate with no moving parts, high signal-to-noise ratios, and flexibility in selecting wavelengths of interest to measure.

French scientists committed to build an infrared camera and spectrometer named MacrOmega to fly on the MMX spacecraft. Like MEGANE, the French instrument will help scientists locate the best place to collect a sample.

Asteroid Origins and Location

Most asteroids and comets formed shortly after the birth of the Solar System, when other debris gradually coalesced to form the planets. And some scientists hypothesize that these objects actually brought water to Earth as part of collisions sometime after this period, making life possible (there are also other hypotheses, such as the idea that water gradually leaked out of hydrous minerals in rocks). By sending probes to asteroids and comets to sample them, we can get clues about whether this idea is correct.  carrying out this analysis on a larger sample from the new Hayabusa 2 probe, which scientists believe is more likely to include water ice, carbon-based molecules, and perhaps even amino acids, could tell us a lot — namely, whether this sort of asteroid, millions of miles away, may have been crucial in seeding life on Earth billions of years ago