Thursday: It seems that a scramble for Mars. Soil Sample has begun after Scientists at the Japanese space agency said they plan to collect soil samples before space agencies of the USA and China can do so.
China and America have already launched a mission to Mars last year, hoping to find clues about the planet’s origins and traces of possible life.
The Japanese space agency (JAXA) plans to launch a researcher to land on Phobos, a Martian moon, in 2024 and bring back 10 grams (0.35 oz) of soil to Earth in 2029.
In an online conference, the project manager Yasuhiro Kawakatsu said that JAXA is hopeful of an early return from the Martian region than its counterparts.
JAXA scientists estimate that about 0.1% of Phobos surface soil comes from Mars, and 10 grams can contain about 30 grains, depending on the consistency of the soil, Kawakatsu said.
NASA’s Sustainability Rover is to collect 31 samples and return to Earth by 2031 with the help of the European Space Agency.
On the other hand, China became the second country to land and operate a spacecraft in May. They plan to return the samples around 2030.
Japanese space programme
According to Tomohiro Usui, a professor at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences, Phobos, the soil is likely a mixture of material from the Moon and material from Mars dispersed by a sand storm.
He said that collecting samples from multiple Phobos locations may provide a greater chance of obtaining possible traces of life from Mars than getting soil from a single site on Mars.
JAXA scientists also said that there is considerable evidence to conclude that creatures coming from Mars, if any, would die due to Phobos heavy solar and cosmic radiation.
NASA and European Space Agency missions focus on potential life forms and the development of the Jezero crater area, which is thought to be a pristine lake.
Scientists are hoping to gather more data and learn about the evolution of the Mars biosphere by studying soil samples from Phobos, including Martian material.
Japanese research on Phobos and NASA samples from specific locations in Mars craters could complement each other and answer questions such as whether life on Mars existed and how it originated and developed on the spot?
The announcement by JAXA comes after their previous success. Last December, the JAXA spacecraft, Hayabusa 2, returned more than 5 grams (0.19 ounces) of soil from asteroid Ryugu, more than 300 million kilometres (190 million miles) from Earth, on the world’s first successful return of an asteroid sample.