The folks over at Ars Technica report that the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, announced they are now accepting proposals for a microprobe that can hitch a ride with the Venus Climate Orbiter, Japan’s upcoming robotic mission to Venus. They will provide a free ride to either a low-Earth orbit or on a trajectory toward Venus. There are just a few requirements that JAXA has specified:
The launch booster for the Venus Climate Orbiter has room for one piggyback probe that can weigh up to 40 kilograms. It must fit into a 50x50x50 centimeter cube. After the microprobe is released, it will be on its own. JAXA will not assist with further correcting its trajectory or inserting it into an orbit around Venus.
The proposal must be submitted by a researcher based at a Japanese institution, and the mission will have to be managed in Japan. However, this does not preclude a Japanese team from collaborating with foreign researchers on a proposal. Also, all the documents for information and proposals are written in Japanese.
But if youâ€™re in the market for a ride to Venus, the deadline for submitting your proposal is May 23, 2008. The announcement of JAXA’s micro-satellite program is posted here, and the specific announcement for piggybacking on Venus Climate Orbiter is here. The requirements for the micro-satellite and the application forms are found here.
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Piggybacked micro-mission to a planet has been done before: NASA’s failed Mars Polar Lander mission had two accompanying microprobes, each weighing only 2.4 kilograms, that would have penetrated the Martian soil to take measurements if the mission had gone better. Mars Polar Lander and the two penetrator probesâ€”named Deep Space 2â€”all failed independently of one another.
Original News Source: Ars Technica