Japan to postpone Martian moon probe until fiscal 2026

NHK -- Dec 07

A Japanese government panel has drafted a plan to postpone a Martian moon probe until fiscal 2026.

In a project led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, a probe is to land on the Martian moon Phobos and carry surface samples back to Earth. This is part of the Martian Moons Exploration, or MMX, project, which aims to shed light on the moon's origin. If successful, it would be a world first. The probe was initially scheduled for launch in fiscal 2024.

A Cabinet Office panel met on Tuesday and compiled a draft revision to development projects and schedules within the government's space policy.

The panel said the failed launch of the country's new flagship H3 rocket in March is one of the reasons for pushing back the mission, as the failure has caused delays to subsequent H3 rocket launches. The panel said it also took into account the orbit of Phobos.

A project called Lunar Polar Exploration, or LUPEX, which will probe the possible existence of resources including water on the Earth's Moon, is also likely to be postponed by a year.

The revisions are expected to be approved at a meeting of the Strategic Headquarters for National Space Policy by the end of the year.

As Japan enters peak pollen season, the battle against cedar pollen allergies intensifies, with questions remaining on the effectiveness of re-planting forests with pollen-free trees.

On Monday evening, February 26, JAXA unveiled photos taken from the lunar explorer SLIM, clearly showing the lunar surface scattered with rocks and other features.

Isn't it beautiful? In a flask containing a substance with a deep purple hue, Professor Akira Kitagishi from Doshisha University is conducting an experiment that may create a groundbreaking therapeutic drug.

Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, who has been residing on the International Space Station (ISS) since last year, reflected on the experiments he has conducted, stating, "It was an environment where we could test for future human missions to the Moon and beyond."