National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Science & Technology
Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)

Editor's Note: This information comes from the NASA/JPL Moon Mineralogy Mapper Website, which was taken offline in June 2013. It is archived here to preserve the historical record.

NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) was one of six guest instruments India's Chandrayaan-1 mission to Earth's moon.

The goal of the M3 instrument was to map the mineral composition of the entire lunar surface at a high resolution. M3 complements the capabilities of the other Chandrayaan-1 instruments, and fulfilled an essential need for remote compositional analysis of the Moon.

The M3 instrument is an imaging spectrometer. It generates images of moon surfaces in long narrow strips and spreads them like a rainbow in push-broom fashion. The acquired images are formed into a multi-colored map of the lunar surface. As the spacecraft orbits the moon, M3's rectangular photodetector quickly records these narrow strip images in a 260-color spectrum. These images are stored in computer memory and transmitted back to earth by radio several times per day. The data is processed and the images are combined to form a map aggregate of the lunar surface.

Sunlight that is reflected from the lunar surface enters the M3 instrument and is imaged by a three mirror telescope (fore-optic). A slit at the entrance to the spectrometer keeps other light out, so the spectrometer can only see this part of the lunar surface. The spectrometer disperses the blue to near infrared light (wavelengths of 400 to 3000 nanometers) onto 260 rows of the detector. This forms 260 images of the ground in a gradient of colors.

M3 sees a 24 degree field-of-view and can make an image that is 40 kilometers wide on the moon's surface. This is imaged onto 600 detector pixels, with each pixel representing 67 meters on the surface. The circumference of the moon is 10,930 kilometers. With overlap, it takes more than 274 image swaths to completely map the moon.

The spectrometer optics were designed to be small and light weight. They were also designed to produce no distortion in either spatial or spectral direction. That means the color sample is the same for all pixels in a row and the ground image is the same for all pixels in a column.

The M3 photodetector array comprises the Teledyne 6604A mercury-cadmium-telluride sensor chip assembly. A set of filters is placed directly in front of the detector to eliminate unwanted light that was introduced by the grating.

Due to the large volume of data that is generated by this imaging spectrometer, and the desire to make a full mineralogical map of the lunar surface, the instrument was designed to operate in two modes. Target Mode provides full resolution for specific targets of interest and Global Mode which averages 2 pixels in the spatial direction and 2 to 4 pixels in the spectral direction and reduces the amount of data by a factor of 12. The priority for operations was to first obtain the full lunar surface in Global Mode, then obtain the most interesting regions using Target Mode.

Illustration showing parts of spacecraft instrument
Image of circuit board
Image of circuit board

M3 Instrument - Flight Configuration Pictures
This is the rear view of the M3instrument in Flight Configuration with Optical Bench Assembly (OBA) and Instrument Electronics Assembly (IEA) connected.
Color image of spacecraft instrument wrapped in gold foil
Complete Instrument
Color image of spacecraft instrument wrapped in gold foil
Front, right view
Color image of spacecraft instrument wrapped in gold foil
Left, front view

M3 Team Photo Collection
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people
Picture of a group of people

M3 Science Team
Thomas Glavich Project Manager (2005 - 2008), NASA JPL
Mary L. White Project Manager (2008 - End of Mission), NASA JPL
Carlé Pieters Principal Investigator, Brown University
Robert O. Green Instrument Scientist, NASA JPL
Joseph Boardman Geometric Calibration, Analytical Imaging and Geophysics LLC
Bonnie Buratti Photometry Calibration and Validation, NASA JPL
Roger N. Clark Volatiles, Thermal Calibration, USGS
James W. Head Science Targets, Brown University
Peter Isaacson Synthetic Data, Brown University
Rachel Klima Parameter Definition, Brown University
Georgiana Kramer Reflectance Calibration and Data Validation, Bear Fight Center
Sarah Lundeen Instrument Ground Data System, NASA JPL
Erick Malaret Level 2 Data Production, Applied Coherent Technology Corp.
Thomas McCord Reflectance Calibration and Validation, Bear Fight Center
Stephanie McLaughlin Level 2 Data Archive, University of Maryland
Daniel Moriarty System Analyst (2011 - End of Mission), Brown University
John F. Mustard Mixing, Brown University
Jeffrey Nettles System Analyst (2005 - 2010), Brown University
Noah Petro Target Coordinator, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Cassandra Runyon Education Public Outreach, College of Charleston
Matthew Staid Basalt Composition and Integration, Planetary Science Institute
Jessica Sunshine Special Targets, Level 2 Data Lead, University of Maryland
Lawrence Taylor Resource Targets, Ground Truth, Planetary Geosciences Institute
Stefanie Tompkins Highlands Composition, DARPA
Padma Varanasi Mission Operations, NASA JPL

Last Updated: 28 August 2013

Science Features
Astronomy Features
Technology Assessment Reports
Sungrazing Comets


Best of NASA Science
NASA Science Highlights
Technology Features
Lectures & Discussions

Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 28 Aug 2013