Exploring the Universe: Japan Space Agency’s Missions to Outer Space

Exploring the Universe: Japan Space Agency’s Missions to Outer Space

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been at the forefront of space exploration, with a number of missions that have advanced our understanding of the universe. From sending satellites to study the cosmos, to launching probes to explore other planets, JAXA has been pushing the boundaries of what is possible in space exploration.

Hayabusa Missions

One of JAXA’s most notable missions is the Hayabusa series. The first Hayabusa mission, Hayabusa 1, was launched in 2003 with the goal of visiting an asteroid named Itokawa. The spacecraft successfully landed on the asteroid in 2005, collected samples, and returned to Earth in 2010. This mission was a major milestone in space exploration, as it was the first time a spacecraft had returned samples from an asteroid.

JAXA followed up the success of Hayabusa 1 with the launch of Hayabusa 2 in 2014. This mission aimed to study another asteroid, named Ryugu, and collect samples for return to Earth. In 2019, Hayabusa 2 successfully landed on Ryugu, collected samples, and is scheduled to return to Earth in December 2020. This mission is significant as it will provide valuable insights into the composition of asteroids and the early solar system.


JAXA’s SELENE (SELenological and ENgineering Explorer) mission, also known as Kaguya, was launched in 2007 with the goal of studying the Moon. The spacecraft orbited the Moon for about a year, conducting experiments to study the lunar surface, gravity, and magnetic field. SELENE provided valuable data that has helped scientists better understand the formation and evolution of the Moon.


In 2010, JAXA launched the Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun (IKAROS) mission, which aimed to test solar sail technology for propulsion in space. The spacecraft successfully deployed a solar sail, which used sunlight to propel the spacecraft forward. This technology could potentially revolutionize space exploration by allowing spacecraft to travel vast distances without the need for traditional fuel sources.


JAXA’s PROXIMA mission, launched in 2016, is a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the International Space Station (ISS) and its effects on astronauts’ health. The mission aims to improve our understanding of how long-duration spaceflight affects the human body, with the goal of supporting future missions to Mars and beyond.

Future Missions

JAXA has a number of exciting missions planned for the future, including the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, which aims to study the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. The agency is also working on the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission, which will study the Moon’s surface in preparation for future crewed missions.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay.com

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