While space agencies all over the world, such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, mainly concentrating their efforts on expeditions to places like the Moon and Mars, the Japanese space agency JAXA is focusing on an entirely different type of mission.
According to Ars Technica, the expedition will cost about $417 million and has an attempted launch window of 2024. If the mission is successful, it will be the first time ever that humans got a sample of a moon rotating around another planet.
An Ambitious Mission
The Martian Moon eXploration (MMX) program will step on both the Martian moon Deimos and Phobos. Orbiting the moons will be an amazing achievement for JAXA, but the main point of the mission’s success will definitely be the landing on Phobos. According to a new announcement released by JAXA, the spacecraft will land on Phobos for only a few hours.
“Phobos has been selected for surface operations, with the spacecraft landing for several hours to collect a sample of at least 10g using a corer that can gather material from a minimum of 2cm below the moon’s surface. The spacecraft will then leave the Martian system and return the sample to Earth, completing the first round-trip to the Martian system,” JAXA stated.
This is an incredibly ambitious plan: collecting surface samples from other cosmic objects in our Solar System is something rather challenging, and that is why groups like JAXA and NASA have concentrated their efforts on getting samples from asteroids instead of other planets and moons.
The mission is scheduled to begin in 2024, and until then, we will learn more about JAXA’s plans before the actual launch.