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ESA and JAXA Meet Online to Agree on Future Cooperation

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
February 5, 2021
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Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director General Jan Wörner and President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Dr Hiroshi Yamakawa took part in an online bilateral meeting on 4 February, confirming the status of cooperative activities between the two agencies.

The areas of cooperation include activities in Earth observation, space science and exploration. Dr Yamakawa also agreed to promote the JAXA/ESA relationship further with Josef Aschbacher, currently Director of Earth Observation and Director General elect of ESA. 

Taking the opportunity of this bilateral meeting, two agreements concerning the cooperation on Hera, an ESA-led mission, and MMX, a JAXA-led mission, were concluded. Prof. Wörner and Dr Yamakawa signed the Hera agreement, and Prof. Günther Hasinger and Dr Hitoshi Kuninaka signed the MMX agreement for ESA and JAXA respectively.

Hera is an international planetary defence mission to carry out observations of the NASA DART mission’s impact on the binary asteroid Didymos. Under this agreement, JAXA contributes to the mission by providing the thermal infrared camera and science collaboration.

MMX is a JAXA exploration mission, which plans to collect a sample from the martian moon Phobos and to bring it back to Earth. The agreement paves the way for ESA to provide JAXA with onboard communication components for the probe and assist in spacecraft tracking and control. ESA’s contribution through science cooperation is also included in the agreement.