MIRO is a small and lightweight spectrometer instrument, the first of its kind launched into deep space. The MIRO science team comprises 22 scientists from the US, France, Germany and Taiwan. Resembling a miniaturised ground-based radio telescope, it was designed to study the composition, velocity and temperature of gases on or near the comet’s surface and measure the temperature of the nucleus down to a depth of several centimetres. Studying the nucleus temperature and evolution of the coma and tail will provide information on how the comet evolves as it approaches and leaves the vicinity of the Sun, and more about exactly why that happens.
During Rosetta’s flybys of asteroids Steins and Lutetia in 2008 and 2010, respectively, the instrument measured thermal emission from these asteroids and searched for water vapour.
MIRO was built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, home of principal investigator Samuel Gulkis. Hardware subsystems were provided by the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research and LERMA of the Observatoire de Paris. The consortium also includes LESIA of the Observatoire de Paris.