CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of France’s CNES space agency, and Naoki Okumura, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), have signed an agreement to prepare the MMX (Martian Moons Exploration) mission that is due to lift off in 2024.
The agreement was signed in Tokyo on 10th April in the presence of Jean-Pierre Bibring of the IAS space astrophysics institute and Saku Tsuneta of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS).
MMX is a project to return samples from Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons with Deimos. The mission intends to probe the moons’ origins and thus gain new insights into how the solar system formed and evolved.
The agreement covers phase A of the project, to which CNES will be contributing feasibility studies prior to a formal go-ahead decision, which Japan is expected to make by the end of this year for a mission launch in 2024.
This new joint endeavour stems from the renewal in 2015 of the framework cooperation agreement between CNES and JAXA, signed in the presence of the French and Japanese Prime Ministers. It ties in with the 2013-2018 roadmap set out in 2013 during President François Hollande’s visit to Japan.