Is this the smartest space mission in the Solar System?

Let’s face it no one has a clue how Phobos formed. One theory says it’s a captured primitive asteroid. Well, it does look like one. Another theory claims it formed after a giant asteroid slammed into Mars. Really, it’s all very confusing. Anyway, JAXA is going to send a mission to clear up the mystery. MMX (Martian Moons Exploration) is due to launch in 2024 and return five years later. It will bring back samples from Phobos and also take a look at Mars’s other moon Deimos. It is a very smart plan. If Phobos really did form from a big impact event on Mars then JAXA will be the first to bring back samples from the red planet. That’s a big win. If it’s a captured asteroid that will sort out the mystery, return some cool samples, including possibly bits of Mars. Another big win. A very smart mission concept. Why didn’t someone think of this earlier?

Phobos (image credit: NASA)


Featured image: MMX spacecraft and Phobos (image credit: JAXA)

Top image: Mars, Phobos (foreground) and Deimos (background) (Image credit: NASA)

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