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MELOS is the name of a proposed Japanese mission to Mars.[1] It started as a combined orbiter and lander mission called Mars Explorations with Landers and Orbiters, however, by the mid-2010s this had been scaled back to a rover, and possibly an aircraft.[2]

Mars Exploration and Life-Organism Search[edit]

By the mid-2010s MELOS was re-titled and scaled back to focus on surface operations.[3] The idea was to deploy a small rover using skycrane, however it had some extra features like possible attached daughter rover for accessing hard to reach places..[4] Also, a Mars aircraft was also considered for the design..[5]

First MELOS (Mars Explorations with Landers and Orbiters[edit]

Mars Exploration with a Lander-Orbiter Synergy (MELOS)
Operator Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Mission type orbiter and up to 4 small landers
Launch date Proposed for 2019[6]
Orbital elements
Inclination 10°
Apoapsis 3,847 km
Periapsis 21,912 km
Orbital period 12.33 hours (1/2 sol)
Mars landing

MELOS ("Mars Exploration with a Lander-Orbiter Synergy") is a proposed Japanese planetary exploration mission under assessment and consideration, that would investigate the evolution of Martian atmosphere, the water and climate of Mars.[7]


The mission's objective is to increase understanding on the composition of the interior and surface of Mars, as well as its atmosphere and surrounding space.[8]

The MELOS mission would consist of an orbiter and up to 4 small landers; all elements would be launched together on the same rocket. The orbiter would study the atmosphere, its and interactions with the solar wind, and image the current weather. Each of the four stationary landers would be deployed on pre-determined landing sites and perform different measurements:[8][9]

Orbiter — Meteorology
Lander A — Surface
Lander B — Astrobiology

This lander would analyse soil near a methane vent. The proposed method is to use fluorochrome dye and a microscope to stain and scan for proteins and cellular membranes. The target sensitivity would be 10 cells / 1 g of soil (compared to 104 cells / 1 g in Earth desert). It would also detect other organic biosignatures or biomolecules.

Lander C — Interior
Lander D — Sample return

Sample return in late 2020s.[9]


This proposed mission by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), aims to understand the geological evolution of Mars and to answer the fundamental question "Why (and how) is Mars different from the Earth?" MELOS would also attempt to determine if Mars had a warm and wet environment in its early stages.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5]
  6. ^ Science Target of MELOS. 2011. JAXA
  7. ^ a b Sasaki, Sho (March 2009), "Japan’s Mars Exploration Plan: MELOS", The 2009 MEPAG Meeting (PDF), retrieved 2012-10-17 
  8. ^ a b Satoh, Takehiko (February 2012), "MELOS: Japan’s Mars Exploration Plan ~ Updates on MELOS" (PDF), MEPAG 2012 (PDF), Washington D.C.: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), retrieved 2012-10-18 
  9. ^ a b MELOS: Japan’s Mars Exploration Plan for 2020’s. MEPAG in Lisbon, Portugal (16–17 June 2011)