CNES, JAXA Sign New Cooperation Agreement on Martian Moons Sample Return Mission

Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

PARIS (CNES PR) — CNES and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) have signed an implementation arrangement covering cooperation activities in the field of flight dynamics and geodetic research as well as the French instrument MIRS (an infrared imaging spectrometer) as part of the Japanese MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) mission scheduled for launch in 2024.

This new arrangement, concluded within the framework of the Inter-Agency Agreement between JAXA and CNES, signed on October 5, 2015 and relating to their cooperation in the field of space programs, follows two previous implementation arrangements covering the various French contributions to the MMX mission.

Announced in June 2015, MMX is a JAXA mission whose main objective is to bring soil samples back to Earth from Phobos, one of the two natural satellites of Mars. The spacecraft will also perform close-range remote sensing observations of the two moons of the red planet, Phobos and Deimos, in an attempt to determine whether the latter are asteroids captured by the gravitational pull of Mars or whether, like our Earth moon, they were formed by the aggregation of materials ejected following a giant impact.

Simulation of the MMX Rover on Phobos. (Credit: DLR)

CNES contribution to this mission also relates to its rover, jointly developed with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). It thus strengthens the fruitful and long-standing cooperation between French, Japanese and German agencies in the conduct of space science programs.