Category : Technology
The Japanese space agency (JAXA) announced flight plans for Phobos, one of Mars's two natural satellites. Under its surface there may be huge clusters of water in the form of ice. The mission is part of the MMX project, which involves exploring both moons.
JAXA announced the green light for the Phobos flight project, which is now entering the development phase. The team responsible for the MMX mission begins work on the hardware and software necessary for the planned launch in 2024. The project involves creating a probe that will land on Phobos.
The MMX is to drill a 2-cm hole in the surface of the moon of Mars, and then take samples. The plans also take into account the construction of the rover, which will be able to explore a larger area than the lander itself. The Japanese, as they have already accustomed us to in previous space missions, plan to return the probe to Earth.
The probe will be equipped with 11 instruments that perform detailed measurements throughout the mission. If everything goes according to plan, the trip to Phobos should end in 2025. Four years later, the probe is expected to return to Earth.
Why is Phobos interested in scientists? There are several reasons
For many years, scientists believe that the moons of Mars Phobos and Deimos may be an astronomical curiosity. It is uncertain whether they arose by hitting something big on the planet or are not asteroids captured by gravity. One of the mission's goals is to find the answer to this question. Another important aspect is to check whether large clusters of ice are hidden under the surface of Phobos, and how difficult it will be to extract them.
This project is also going to measure the radiation environment, which is one of the big concerns for humans traveling beyond the protection of Earth’s magnetosphere.