JAXA Approves Phobos Mission Development Written 21 February 2020


Artist’s concept of Japan’s Mars Moons eXploration (MMX) spacecraft | NASA/Wikipedia; public domain

Spaceflight Now reports that JAXA has approved “a robotic mission to retrieve a sample from the Martian moon Phobos for return to Earth to begin full development for a planned launch in 2024, officials said Thursday.” The Martin Moon eXploration (MMX) spacecraft would return the first samples from Phobos to Earth. Scientists hope to determine whether Mars’ moons originated as asteroids or “if they formed out of rocky debris generated from an ancient impact on Mars.” MMX is “scheduled for launch in September 2024 aboard a Japanese H3 rocket.” It would reach orbit around Mars in August 2020 and land on Phobos. In addition to collecting samples, MMX “will also release a German-French rover to explore the terrain and chemical composition of Phobos for roughly three months.”
Full Story (Spaceflight Now)