Research on Lunar, Planetary Science

Overview


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Learning about the planets and the Moon means learning about the origin of the solar system. In pursuing these studies, we are seeking answers to a question we are always asking: how was the Earth born? JAXA has been trying to find answers by launching Orbiters to the Moon and the planets to collect data.
The following are satellites in service or those planned to be launched for research on planetary science.


Venus Exploration Mission "AKATSUKI" (PLANET-C)
The "PLANET-C" is a planetary exploration project following the Martian orbiter "NOZOMI" (PLANET-B) to unveil the mysteries of the atmosphere of Venus.


Mercury Exploration Mission "BepiColombo"
The "BepiColombo," a Mercury exploration project jointly planned by Japan and the European Space Agency (ESA), will conduct comprehensive observations of Mercury's magnetic field and its surface and interior.


Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa"(MUSES-C)
The "HAYABUSA" (MUSES-C) is an engineering test missions that aims to explore an asteroid, establish sample return technology, and verify the "ion engine" and "automatic navigation system."


SELenological and ENgineering Explorer "KAGUYA"(SELENE)
The "SELENE" is a lunar explorer to acquire data for understanding the Moon's origin and evolution and for the development of technology for future moon exploration.


The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science carries out basic research to analyze data provided from exploration plans, such as those noted above. The wide range of studies and developments have been conducted, such as the study of planetary science, which have been carried out in the world, especially in the U.S.A., using data from probe vehicles, and developments of measuring instruments to be equipped to probe vehicles.
We are actively drafting plans for exploration far in the future. Examples include: an exploration of the Solar System using photon sail, a highly ambitious probe to the Moon, an escape mission from the ecliptic, the next exploration of an asteroid, and an exploration of Jupiter. With strong cooperation from researchers in the technological field of the category of Space and Astronautical Science, these plans might be realized after further investigation into details. The scientific objectives of this type of exploration will also be investigated through discussions among researchers in Japan and abroad.