Japan’s previously announced Martian Moons eXploration mission will include capturing the Red Planet and its moons in 8K resolution, JAXA has announced. The mission, which is scheduled to go live the same year NASA will return humans to the Moon, is a joint effort between JAXA and Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK). Under their partnership, the two entities plan to develop the Super Hi-Vision Camera for snapping these images from orbit.
JAXA announced the MMX imaging intention on September 10, stating that it and the NHK will develop a camera that will be able to capture images of Mars and its moon in 4K and 8K resolution. Assuming the success of this future mission, these will be the very first Ultra HD-resolution images captured of the planet and its moons from such a close distance, providing humanity with unprecedented looks at the foreign world.
The MMX spacecraft that will be launched for this mission is currently in development at JAXA, which intends to launch this mission in 2024. The goal of this mission is to ‘clarify’ the origins of Mars’ moons, as well as shedding light on how the Martian system evolved over time. The NHK, which has previously shown off its 8K technologies, will develop the Super Hi-Vision Camera.
How will JAXA manage to send these images from Mars all the way back to Earth? It won’t…sort of. MMX is ultimately a sample collection mission with a final component that will include returning the sample to Earth. In order to get this 8K imagery, JAXA plans to partially transmit the images to Earth, with the rest of the data stored on ‘a recording device’ that will be included in the capsule that will ultimately return to our planet.
Assuming the mission is a success, MMX will return sand collected from Mars to Earth, a milestone mission for the exploration of this planet. This is joined by a growing number of sample-return space missions — there’s the Bennu asteroid touchdown collection planned for next month, for example, and NASA recently announced that it wants private companies to collect Moon rocks and dust for it to buy.