The ambitious mission will send a spacecraft to visit the two moons of Mars -- Phobos and Deimos. JAXA selected Phobos as a landing site. MMX will touch down on the surface for several hours, deploy a corer, and gather up material from the moon's surface to bring back to Earth.
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Phobos is the larger of the Mars moons, but it's still only 17 miles (27 kilometers) across. It has a funky, potato-like shape and is covered with impact craters. JAXA hopes to answer questions about how Mars' two moons formed.
The mission will also investigate the radiation environment and test technologies designed to land on a low-gravity body like Phobos. Other space agencies, including
and the European Space Agency, are on board to provide instruments, making this mission an international collaboration.
MMX has a planned launch date in 2024.
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