Japan’s mission to explore Mars’ moons gets a green light

Spacecraft with satellite dish and two outstretched solar panels in front of Mars. A small moon, Phobos, is to the left.

An artist’s impression of Japan’s Martian Moons Exploration mission near Mars. | Image: JAXA

Japan is moving ahead with plans to land a spacecraft on Phobos, one of Mars’ moons. If successful, the mission would mark the first time any country has touched down on the surface of the Martian moon and potentially the first round-trip mission to the Mars system.

Japan’s space agency, JAXA, announced today that the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) project had officially moved into the development phase. This means that the team will start working on the hardware and software for the mission ahead of a planned launch in 2024.

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