MaQuIs—Concept for a Mars Quantum Gravity Mission

L. Wörner*, B. C. Root, P. Bouyer, C. Braxmaier, D. Dirkx, J. Encarnação, E. Hauber, H. Hussmann, Karatekin, More Authors

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The aim of this paper is to present the concept of a dedicated gravity field mission for the planet Mars, the Mars Quantum Gravity Mission (MaQuIs). The mission is targeted at improving the data on the gravitational field of Mars, enabling studies on planetary dynamics, seasonal changes, and subsurface water reservoirs. MaQuIs follows well known mission scenarios, currently deployed for Earth, and includes state-of-the-art quantum technologies to enhance the gained scientific signal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105800
Number of pages18
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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Currently, the items in the payload are advanced with respect to the technology readiness level (TRL) and promise reliable operation and precise measurements. The least evolved system is the atom interferometer, allowing for the drift-free correction of the inertial measurement unit. As it is described above, condensed atom ensembles have already been deployed in space. The adaptations necessary to deploy such a system in space are supported and with similar missions planned for Earth, the technology will be readily available at the time of launch for MaQuIs. For example, the European Commission’s stated goal is to launch a pathfinder mission to demonstrate a working quantum accelerometer in space by 2030. A consortium organized by the French and German space agencies is currently working on the CARIOQA – Pathfinder Mission Preparation project, funded under the Horizon Europe programme. The project aims to develop an engineering model of a quantum accelerometer and is investigating Earth observation user needs and potential quantum space gravimetry mission scenarios to meet these needs. A Horizon Europe-funded Phase A study for the quantum pathfinder mission, also called CARIOQA ( Lévèque et al., 2022 ), will be carried out in 2024. This study will identify the steps necessary to raise the TRL of the required technologies to TRL 5. The aim of the European commission is to launch a pathfinder mission, based on the CARIOQA developments, in the early 2030s ( CARIOQA Project Website ).


  • Cold atom research
  • Geodesy
  • Gravimetry
  • Martian lithosphere
  • Quantum technologies
  • Water


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