Paris, 8 February 2021. – Two agencies, two missions: The European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan’s space agency JAXA continue their cooperation in Earth observation, space science and exploration and put a new focus on two missions: Hera and MMX.
Hera is an international asteroid and planetary defence mission which will carry out observations of the earlier NASA DART mission; DART will try to impact the motion of the binary asteroid Didymos. Under the ESA agreement, JAXA will contribute a thermal infrared camera and a science collaboration to the Hera mission, the agency said.
MMX is an exploration mission of JAXA, which plans to collect a sample from the Martian moon Phobos and to bring it back to Earth. ESA is to provide JAXA with onboard communication components for the probe, assist in spacecraft tracking and control and also contribute through science cooperation.
The agreement between the two agencies was probably one of the last of this kind for ESA’s Director General Jan Wörner who hands over to Josef Aschbacher, currently, Director of Earth Observation and Director General elect of ESA, in March. Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), confirmed his intention to further develop the relationship with ESA under its new director.