Japan plans 2024 space mission to explore Martian moons

A robotic rover will retrieve dust samples that may help unravel the mystery of Mars' moons.


NSFW    TOKYO — Japan is set to launch a robotic mission to the Martian system in 2024. The MIT Technology Review reports the mission will visit Phobos and Deimos, and recover dust samples from the former Martian moon, citing Japan's space agency JAXA.

According to JAXA, the Martian Moon Exploration spacecraft, or MMX, will enter into a stable orbit to observe the two moons for a year. The MMX will utilize a NASA-funded neutron and gamma-ray spectrometer to determine the composition of these moons.

The MMX will also land on Phobos and send out a small rover. The vehicle will use its equipped geological core sampler and dig 2 cm deep into the dust to retrieve samples weighing 10 grams.

The mission's main goals are to investigate the two moon's origins, to find evidence that water had been present on Deimos and Phobos, and gather data on the gravitational stress that is expected to tear Phobos apart 30 to 50 million years from now.
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