JaXA, japan’s space agency, has extensive experience in collecting samples of space rocks, such as its Osprey 2 asteroid mission,media reported. It hopes to shift its expertise in this area to the Mars satellite Phobos through its Mars Satellite Exploration (MMX) project.
JAXA announced Wednesday that the official MMX is in development, which focuses on task hardware construction and software development.
The ambitious mission will send a spacecraft to visit two moons on Mars, Phobos and Deimos. JAXA chose Phobos as its landing site. MMX will take several hours to land on the moon’s surface, then turn on the core picker and collect material from the lunar surface and bring it back to Earth.
Although Phobos is the larger of the Martian satellites, it is still only 17 miles (27 kilometers) in diameter. It has a potato-like shape and covers a crater. JAXA hopes their mission will help answer questions about how the two Moons to mars formed.
The mission will also investigate the radiation environment and test techniques designed to land on low-gravity objects such as Phobos. NASA, ESA and other space agencies will provide instruments for the mission, which will be an international collaboration.
It is reported that MMX is scheduled to be launched in 2024.