The Japanese space agency JAXA is sending a mission to explore the two moons of Mars and is even planning to bring a rock monster from Phobos back to Earth.
The mission of Martian Moon Exploration (MMX) will start in 2024 and will include a spacecraft that first orbit around Deimos before landing on the larger Phobos.
While on the surface of Phobos, the lander will be the first to collect a monster of stone from a moon around another planet.
The £ 322 million project will start in 2024 and the monster may have returned to Earth in 2029, confirmed the Japanese agency.
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The Japanese space agency JAXA is sending a mission to explore the two moons of Mars and is even planning to bring a rock monster from Phobos back to Earth
The spacecraft has a sampler on board that lands on Phobos, collects rock monsters and then brings them back to Earth
The Martians are small and have much in common with asteroids – Phobos is the largest with a diameter of 13.8 miles, Deimos is 7.8 miles in diameter.
This has given rise to speculation as to whether they have caught asteroids or fragments that have been expelled from a collision with the Red Planet.
JAXA wants to understand how they are shaped and believe that this mission will provide all the data needed to solve that puzzle.
To achieve that goal, they send a spacecraft to the Mars space that orbit around Mars. It will then move around the moons in a Quasi Satellite Orbit.
While there, he will photograph and collect data about the mane before moving to Phebos where he will land.
The agency will be the first to land on the surface of the mane for the purpose of catching and returning soil samples – although others have considered the idea.
“Understanding the origins and evolution of the planets that lead to the beginning of life” is one of the most important scientific goals of today, “said JAXA
“Because Mars once had a surface environment comparable to the earth with the potential for life, the planet is one of the most important exploration goals.”
In 2020, various missions will go to Mars itself, including landers from the European Space Agency, NASA and the China National Space Administration.
NASA Mars 2020 collects rock samples that are collected by an ESA mission that will be launched about ten years later and then return to Earth – but they will not taste the red planet monsters.
WHAT IS PHOBOS LIKE AND WHAT DOES THE NAME MEAN?
Named after the mythological Greek character for panic or fear
JAXA thinks that Phobos may have old Martian soil on the surface
- Diameter: 13.8 miles
- Orbital period: 7.66 hours
- Distance from Mars: 3,700 miles
- Discovered: August 18, 1877
- Comes closer to Mars every 100 years with around 6.5 feet
- Neatly locked up for Mars
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM DEIMOS AND HOW BIG IS IT?
Named after the Greek mythological character for terror or fear
Deimos has a strange shape and more in common with an asteroid
- Diameter 7.8 miles
- Orbital period: 30.35 hrs
- Distance from Mars: 14,580 miles
- Discovered: August 12, 1877
- Moves slowly away from Mars
- Neatly locked up for Mars
JAXA says they expect the Martians to have collected sediment emitted by Mars for billions of years.
“Observing the moons will therefore provide information about the evolution of the Mars surface,” said the space agency.
“Moreover, if the moons were formed during a collision between Mars and giant asteroids, the lunar material reveals the original conditions on Mars in this early period and provides insight into the formation of the planet and its young environment.
“Alternatively, if the moons are caught asteroids, their composition will help clarify the transport process of volatile components (such as water) needed for habitability.”
Other instruments on the spacecraft launched in 2024 include multiple cameras that can capture the details of the surface in detail
However, they will not only collect and return samples, JAXA also plans to perform a number of remote sensing operations from Mars and its moons.
With the help of infrared light, you can see that the surface of Phobos is not uniform, suggesting that it contains materials that may have come from Mars itself, the team said.
They do not know exactly where they are going to take samples to get the best scientific output, but work together with international researchers to determine a location.
“Observation data obtained by remote sensing instruments will be used to determine the sampling locations,” they said.
The spacecraft system developed by JAXA for the mission will consist of different subsystems and a lander.
Within the subsystems there will be a number of scientific instruments, data processing tools and a way to control the temperature of the vessel and instruments.
JAXA is working with ESA and NASA on the mission, with the other bodies that contribute technologies for lunar surface research
The two most important parts of the spacecraft will be the sampler that will land, take samples and return them safely – the other is the ground segment.
This includes antennas for controlling the spacecraft and sending commands to the lander to receive measurement data and send it back to Earth.
The ship will contain a telescopic camera for observing the detailed terrain on the surface of Phobos with images with a resolution of approximately 15 inches.
It will also have a wide-angle camera to observe the moon’s topography and material composition – capture images in visible light at multiple wavelengths.
There will be a lidar device to observe the shape of the surface, MacrOmega to investigate minerals in near infrared and a gamma ray and neutron observatory.
Yasuhiro Kawakatse, Project Manager for MMX said it would be a challenging but rewarding mission for planetary science.
“Researchers and engineers from all over the world are intensively involved in this mission study, with the aim of starting in 2024.”
WAS MARS ALWAYS AT HOME WITH LIQUID WATER?
Proof of water on Mars dates from the Mariner 9 mission, which arrived in 1971. It revealed clues of water erosion in river beds and canyons, as well as fronts and fog.
Viking tracks that followed caused a revolution in our ideas about water on Mars by showing how floods broke through dams and cut deep valleys.
Mars is currently in the middle of an ice age, and before this study, scientists believed that liquid water could not exist on the surface.
In June 2013, Curiosity found powerful evidence that water that was good enough to drink once flowed on Mars.
In September of the same year, the first scoop of soil analyzed by Curiosity revealed that fine materials on the surface of the planet contained two percent by weight of water.
In 2017, scientists provided the best estimates for water on Mars, claiming it once had more liquid H2O than the Arctic Ocean – and the planet has preserved these oceans for over 1.5 billion years.
The findings suggest that there was enough time and water for Mars to thrive, but over the past 3.7 billion years the red planet has lost 87 percent of its water – leaving it bare and dry.