NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive Header

Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System (MIDAS)

NSSDCA ID: 2004-006A-08

Mission Name: Rosetta
Principal Investigator:Dr. Mark Bentley


The Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System (MIDAS) on Rosetta is designed to capture dust particles and image them in three dimensions at nanometer scales with an atomic force microscope. The primary scientific objectives include: 1) obtaining images of single particles at a spatial resolution of 4 nm; 2) making statistical evaluations on sizes, volumes and shapes; 3) characterizing the size distribution from ~4 nm to a few micrometers; 4) analyzing the shape, volume, and topographic structure of individual particles; 5) profile the spatial and temporal variations of particle flux; 6) characterize the dust environment of the asteroids; and 7) perform imaging and statistical analysis of impact craters caused by interplanetary dust particles.

MIDAS is housed in a single box mounted on the spacecraft. It has a target wheel with roughly 60 polished silicon facets for particle collection. A facet is rotated into the field of the atomic force microscope (AFM), a type of scanning microprobe capable of three-dimensional imaging of small structures. The AFM consists of an ultra-sharp tip which moves over a sample. The sample-tip interaction (electrostatic, magnetostatic, and/or mechanical) is measured by piezo-electric motion systems, giving information on the topography and material properties at the atomic level in the form of images which will enable the study of individual particle's size, shape, and texture. The AFM will examine particles of sizes of 10 nanometers to a few micrometers.

Alternate Names

  • Rosetta/MIDAS

Facts in Brief

Mass: 8 kg
Power (avg): 7.4 W

Funding Agency

  • European Space Agency (International)


  • Planetary Science: Small Bodies

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Mark BentleyPrincipal InvestigatorInstitut fuer Weltraumforschung,

Selected References

  • Riedler, W., et al., The MIDAS experiment for the Rosetta mission, Adv. Space Res., 21, No. 11, 1547-1556, 1998.
  • Romstedt, J., et al., In situ imaging of micrometers and sub-micrometers sized grains in a cometary environment by atomic force microscopy, Planet. Space Sci., 50, No. 3, 347-352, Mar. 2002.
[] NASA Logo -