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Japanese Mars mission to land in Woomera, SA

Australian online newsletter Space Connect says that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced a Japanese spacecraft will be allowed to land at Woomera in South Australia following a “world-first mission” to one of the moons of Mars — Phobos.

The agreement came as part of the meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Albanese in Perth where the two also cemented a Japan-Australia security pact.

“Japan has asked for our cooperation in one of the most daring space missions ever attempted,” announced Albanese. “JAXA, Japan’s space agency, is planning to touch down on Phobos, one of the moons of Mars, and collect samples that might tell us more than we’ve ever known about the birth of our solar system.

“The request from Japan is for the spacecraft, nicknamed MMX, to land in Woomera in South Australia with its precious samples when it returns to Earth in 2029.

“I am pleased to confirm that Australia has, once again, said yes.”

The Japanese Phobos mission is set to launch in September 2024, land on Phobos in August 2025 and then land at Woomera in July 2029.

With the samples, the MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) team hopes to identify the origins of Mars’ moons, as well as Mars itself and potential evidence of the former presence of life.

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