Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Japanese and Russian Plans

A number of articles in the last two days have reported on Japanese and Russian planetary exploration plans.  I'll recommend two because they provide some extra depth.

The Japanese government has approved the Hayabusa 2 mission to sample a new asteroid, the 914 meters in diameter 1999 JU3 asteroid.  As reported by the University of Central Florida, this asteroid has been a focus of study by faculty member Humberto Campins, who states that, “Based on our analysis, it should be rich in primitive materials, specifically organic molecules and hydrated minerals from the early days of our solar system,” Campins said. “If successful it could give us clues about the birth of water and life in our world.”  Many of you will remember that the original Hayabusa mission suffered from several technical problems.  The new spacecraft will have a number of updated systems, including an improved sampling device that should collect a larger sample.

The Russian government has announced that it's next Mars system mission will either by a joint mission with ESA and NASA for the ExoMars program or a new mission to attempt to sample the Martian moon Phobos.  The Daily Galaxy reported this news, and also described the evidence that supports the view that Phobos is likely to be composed of material blasted off the surface of Mars by meteor impacts that agglomerated into the moon.  A sample return to Phobos, then would be an inexpensive way to return additional samples of Mars.  (Editorial note: The main problem with sampling Mars via Phobos will be the same as with sampling Mars through the meteorites from that planet found on the Earth: We don't know the source and original context of the samples and the sedimentary rocks most desired are the one least likely to be successfully  sent into space.)

No comments:

Post a Comment