When it comes to expansion or exploration, Japan and Germany stand together as history has repeatedly shown us. Soon after launching a rover on asteroid Ryugu last month, Japan has announced its future vision to explore Mars moons in collaboration with the German space agency.
JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Germany’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), and the German Aerospace Center DLR have agreed to conduct a joint study by a Rover onboard Martian Moon eXploration Mission (MMX).
Currently, the DLR-CNES asteroid lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) onboard Hayabusa 2 that landed on the surface of asteroid Ryugu on October 3, 2018, is conducting remote observation as well as surface composition analysis of the asteroid.
In the light of this success, JAXA, CNES, and DLR jointly declared their wish to cooperate on the MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) mission, which is led by JAXA to explore Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, aiming for observation, landing, and sample return.
JAXA, CNES, and DLR have agreed that the rover onboard MMX would be developed through French-German collaboration. The rover would be released to the surface of Martian Moon prior to the landing of its mother ship, MMX. The rover is to analyze the surface regolith and configuration in great details to optimize the MMX landing and sample return operation.
The entire process is expected not only to reduce the mission risk but also to achieve scientific result as the rover acquires surface data in advance of the physical sample return to the Earth, said JAXA in a statement.
While the MASCOT with primary batteries allows approximately 1-day of operation, the rover onboard MMX is to be powered by solar cell, which is to enable mobile surface observation that is expected to last for several months.
The scientific observation instrument to be onboard MMX will be determined to maximize the outcome of MMX mission. JAXA, CNES, and DLR are going to jointly conduct study activities for MMX and the rover with the aim for launch in 2024.