The Phobos-Grunt microgravity soil preparation system

Kai Leung Yung, Chi Wo Lam, Sui Man Ko, James Abbott Foster

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


However, many instruments on board space missions can only make qualitative measurements. The SOil Preparation SYStem (SOPSYS) designed for the Phobos-grunt mission in 2011 was a unique spacecraft subsystem that can grind, sieve, transport and measure samples of regolith in the absence of gravity. Its mission was to produce a compact plug of regolith sample composed of particles no larger than 1 mm for a gas analytic package. It delivers a sample with specified volume enabling a quantitative analysis of the volatiles produced at different temperatures through heating. To minimize cross contamination, SOPSYS self-cleans after each sample is delivered. The apparatus was a cooperative development between China and Russia for the Phobos-Grunt mission to the Martian moon Phobos and will be reused on the upcoming reattempt of that mission and other similar missions. The paper presents an overview of the subsystem and the results of qualification model testing. The flight unit of SOPSYS has a low mass of 622 g including control electronics and compact dimensions of 247 mm by 102 mm by 45 mm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalActa Astronautica
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Phobos
  • Phobos-Grunt
  • Preparation
  • Sample
  • Sample return

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'The Phobos-Grunt microgravity soil preparation system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this