Japan’s Martian Moons Mission Gets Go Ahead

Artist impression of the MMX spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA)

Martian Moons EXploration (MMX) mission to explore moons, return soil sample from Phobos.

TOKYO (JAXA Program Update) — This week (19 February 2020), the MMX mission transitioned to become a JAXA Project: an official step in mission development authorised by the Japanese government. The mission was previously in the Pre-Project phase, where the focus was on research and analysis, such as simulating landings to improve spacecraft design. The focus will now move onto the development of mission hardware and software.


JAXA, CNES to Cooperate on Hayabusa2 Sample Analysis, Martian Moons Mission

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [JAXA] has agreed to cooperate with Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) on the study-phase activities in JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission and analysis of Hayabusa2-returned samples.


Japan, France & Germany to Study Martian Moon Rover & Sample Return

Martian moon Phobos

Joint Statement
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA),
The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES),
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V.,
Linder Höhe, 51147 Köln, represented by its Executive Board
(The German Aerospace Center DLR)
Joint Study Activities for a Rover onboard Martian Moon eXploration Mission (MMX)

 The DLR – CNES asteroid lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) onboard Hayabusa 2 is intended to land on the surface of asteroid Ryugu on October 3,2018. MASCOT will significantly enhance the mission’s science result through performing remote observation as well as surface composition analysis.

In the light of this success, JAXA, CNES, and DLR jointly declare their wish to cooperate on the MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) mission as follows:

MMX is a JAXA led mission to explore Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, aiming for observation, landing, and sample return.

JAXA, CNES, and DLR have agreed that the rover onboard MMX would be developed through French-German collaboration.

The rover would be released to the surface of Martian Moon prior to the landing of its mother ship, MMX. The rover is to analyze the surface regolith and configuration in great details to optimize the MMX landing and sample return operation. This process is expected not only to reduce the mission risk but also to achieve scientific result as the rover acquires surface data in advance of the physical sample return to the Earth.

While the MASCOT with primary batteries allows approximately 1-day of operation, the rover onboard MMX is to be powered by solar cell, which is to enable mobile surface observation that is expected to last for several months.

The scientific observation instrument to be onboard MMX will be determined in the aim of maximizing the outcome of MMX mission.

JAXA, CNES, and DLR are going to jointly conduct study activities for MMX and the rover with the aim for launch in 2024.

In witness hereof this Statement has been signed on October 3, 2018 at International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

Hiroshi Yamakawa
President, JAXA

Jean-Yves Le Gall
President, CNES

Pascale Ehrenfreund
Chair of the Executive Board, DLR

Hansjörg Dittus
Member of the Executive Board, DLR

Japan Plans Sample Return from Martian Moons

MMX on-orbit configuration (Credit: JAXA)

Japan is planning a complex mission that will study the moons of Mars and return soil samples to Earth.

Set for launch in September 2024, the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) mission would spend three years exploring Phobos and Deimos before departing in August 2028 for a return to Earth 11 months later.