For those of you who like to follow space matters, this little story may seem like it is too insignificant to take notice of, until one reads in between the lines a bit, and recalls some context. It was shared by Mr. S.D., and I bring it to your attention just to give everyone a long-term heads up.
First, let's set the context. Recall a few years ago, after the European Space Agency's rather stunning pictures and radar tomography of the Martian moon Phobos, that there appeared to be some very interesting indications that the little satellite might either be (1) hollow, as indicated by some of the radar tomography the Europeans had taken, and (2) artificial, as indicated by two things: (a) Phobos' strange surfacem which had recilinear, right angle features in abundance, and (b) by the fact that very strange historical anomalies surround the object, which I noted in my book Covert Wars and the Clash of Civilizations. There I pointed out that a Soviet astronomer had pointed out that the moon, which should have been seen and hence discovered by the telescopes in the eighteenth century, was not seen and discovered until the latter half of the nineteenth century. Or....was it? The Soviet astronomer in question, I.S. Shklovskii also pointed out that the British satirist, Jonathan Swift, had predicted that Mars had two satellites, and had predicted their orbits with astonishing accuracy, a century before their "discovery." This led me to posit that there was a kind of "secret space program" in the eighteenth century, or more accurately, a "secret telescope" program. While Shklovskii did not come right out and say it, what he was clearly implying was that someone had simply parked the two moons around Mars.
In any case, things then became very interesting, as Russia announced it was going to launch a probe - Phobos Grunt - to go to the Martian satellite, to some more extensive radar tomography than the European Space Agency had done, and additionally, pick up rock and soil samples, and then return them to Earth. Things then became even more interesting at this juncture, for the Russians launched their probe, which promptly failed before it left Earth. Rumors quickly swirled that the probe had been sabotaged, either by corrupted software, corrupted and faulty computer chips, or - as one Russian general explained - by a sophisticated "radar" which had scrambled the probe's circuits. While he didn't name names, it was clear he had the USA in mind. On the sabotage view, someone within the Western/American space elite did not want Russia going to Phobos, doing any sort of radar tomography, much less returning soil and rock samples back to the Earth.
So, in this context, ponder this article about Japanese plans for the Martian satellites, shared by Mr. S.D., by way of a long-range heads-up of something to watch:
Notice that the purpose of the mission is the same as the Russian Phobos-Grunt probe:
"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has announced preliminary plans to bring some samples back from one of Mars' moons, Phobos or Deimos, the Nikkei news agency reports. The moons, named after the Greek gods of fear and terror, have been observed by Mars orbiters but never landed on. The JAXA plan would be the first to do so, though which moon gets the honor is yet to be determined"
Here comes the high octane speculation:
I for one do not for a moment think that this will be the sole purpose of the Japanese probe, but rather, that this will probably be a mission with a very covert purpose, with (1) a maneuverable "mother" probe, carrying tomography and other sensor equipment, plus (2) two landers, one each for Phobos and Deimos. Moreover, I suspect that the publicly stated target of the mission will still remain confined to one mission, and that the array of sensor equipment will tell us much about the second lander and what's really up. Time will tell of course, but given the history of Mars, which seems to lose more space probes than any other planet (witness only the Russians' unfortunate experiences with Phobos II and Phobos-Grunt), it will be interesting to see what, if any, difficulties the Japanese experience.
See you on the flip side...