DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 41. Future Missions and Instruments
Poster, Highlighted on, Friday, September 5, 2003, 3:30-6:00pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[41.03] The Gulliver Mission: A Short-Cut to Primitive Body and Mars Sample Return

D. T. Britt (University of Central Florida)

The Martian moon Deimos has extraordinary potential for future sample return missions. Deimos is spectrally similar to D-type asteroids and may be a captured primitive asteroid that originated in the outer asteroid belt. This capture probably took place in the earliest periods of Martian history, over 4.4 Gyrs ago [1], and Deimos has been accumulating material ejected from the Martian surface ever since. Analysis of Martian ejecta, material accumulation, capture cross-section, regolith over-turn, and Deimos's albedo suggest that Mars material may make up as much as 10% of Deimos's regolith. The Martian material on Deimos would be dominated by ejecta from the ancient crust of Mars, delivered during the Noachian Period of basin-forming impacts and heavy bombardment. Deimos could be a repository of samples from ancient Mars, including the full range of Martian crustal and upper mantle material from the early differentiation and crustal-forming epoch as well as samples from the era of high volatile flux, thick atmosphere, and possible surface water. In addition to Martian ejecta, 90% of the Deimos sample will be spectral type D asteroidal material. D-type asteroids are thought to be highly primitive and are most common in the difficult to access outer asteroid belt and the Jupiter Trojans. The Gulliver Mission proposes to directly collect up to 10 kilograms of Deimos regolith and return it to Earth. This sample may contain up to 1000 grams of Martian material along with up to 9 kilograms of primitive asteroidal material. Because of stochastic processes of regolith mixing over 4.4 Gyrs, the rock fragments and grains will likely sample the diversity of the Martian ancient surface as well as the asteroid. In essence, Gulliver represents two shortcuts, to Mars sample return and to the outer asteroid belt. References: [1] Burns J. A. (1992) Mars (Kieffer H. H. et al., eds), 1283-1302.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.