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Japan’s Future Plans for Lunar and Planetary Exploration

Q. Could you tell us about JAXA’s vision for lunar and planetary exploration?

JAXA is developing a mission for landing on the lunar surface
JAXA is developing a mission for landing on the lunar surface

To emphasize lunar and planetary exploration, we founded the JAXA Space Exploration Center about two years ago. Now that the lunar explorer KAGUYA has concluded operations, our next target is to develop a mission for landing on the lunar surface. Also, we are studying a new asteroid exploration mission, HAYABUSA 2, and the Mercury exploration mission BepiColombo is in co-development with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Since the Basic Space Law was enacted in 2008, Japan has moved forward to make its space plan a part of national policy. Last year, the government launched a council for lunar exploration, and an immediate plan is currently under discussion. I expect that the state will set a national policy in the near future and that a vision for Japan’s lunar exploration will be laid out.

Related Link: JAXA Space Exploration Center (JSPEC)

Contributing to Addressing Global Environmental Issues

Q. What does JAXA do to address global environmental issues?

Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite IBUKI
Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite IBUKI

We have three major initiatives. One is to address environmental issues using satellites. We have started distribution of data from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) IBUKI, which was launched in January 2009. I am certain that the data will help researchers around the world advance the study of the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming. At present, IBUKI is the only satellite to globally measure the densities of carbon dioxide and methane, which are both causes of global warming, so IBUKI is expected to play a very important role in addressing Earth’s environmental issues.
Global warming is a problem that requires global efforts. At international meetings such as the Earth Summit, Japan has set itself goals to prioritize research on water circulation and climate change, and JAXA is now developing Earth observation satellites that will focus on this. First of all, we have the Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM): the GCOM-W for observing the changes in global water circulation, and the GCOM-C for observing global climate change. GCOM-W is scheduled for launch in 2011. In the meantime, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission is in co-development with NASA to study global precipitation. We also have a joint mission with ESA, called EarthCARE, to measure clouds, dust and dirt in the atmosphere (aerosols).
The second initiative is research and development for environmentally friendly aircraft. Today, air pollution caused by emissions from jets is a great concern, and in response JAXA is developing a clean engine that reduces carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions. In addition, we are studying fuselage noise reduction, improvement of fuel efficiency, and silent supersonic aircraft with low sonic booms. I believe that these elements will contribute to the development of the next generation of environmentally friendly aircraft.
The third initiative relates to the entire organization of JAXA. Based on 2001 levels, we are committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 8% by 2012. For example, we are trying to lower our consumption of electricity and paper. Also, each of our facilities has attained ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems) certification. These environmental efforts at JAXA are reported annually in the JAXA ECO Report. We will continue to take proactive measures toward reducing global warming this year.

Related Link: For the Environment
  Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) IBUKI
Aviation Program Group

Advancing the Aerospace Industry

Q. How does JAXA contribute to Japanese industry?


The Basic Space Law, which was enacted in 2008, includes promotion of the space industry. To address this goal, last year JAXA established the Industrial Collaboration and Coordination Center, a center for the promotion of aerospace technology transfer to the private sector.
First, private-sector companies are encouraged to use JAXA’s intellectual property - the technology JAXA has accumulated to date. The operation of the H-IIA launch service was transferred to a private company three years ago, and we would like to do so with other rocket technologies, to help establish a rocket industry in Japan. It is also important to reinforce the satellite industry. JAXA leads research and development, particularly of the common basic systems (the common bus) for satellites, large antennas and sensors. Also, for the component industry, we conduct joint development to enhance and export Japan’s strength.
Secondly, JAXA invites the private sector to use its latest facilities and equipment. It is difficult for private businesses and universities to maintain large test facilities, so we make ours available to outside clients.
The third initiative is what we call the Space Open Lab, which was established for developing new business around space. At the lab, joint research with the private sector is conducted to pursue ways to apply space technology to consumer products, and conversely, ways to use consumer-product technology in space. This operation began in 2004, and many corporations and universities have joined since then, generating new ideas, many of which have lead to the development of products that can be used in daily life. We would like to continue our efforts to bring benefits to the domain of consumer products, instead of focusing on the space industry only.
The fourth element is to promote the “space brand” to the public. New merchandise and services, developed through our program for sharing JAXA’s intellectual property with the private sector and the Space Open Lab, are branded with the JAXA COSMODE PROJECT logo. I expect that continued production of such merchandize will help familiarize the public with space, and encourage private businesses to use space technology.
And finally, we’ve made a public invitation for small piggyback satellites to be launched on H-IIA rockets. When we have extra launch capacity, we offer universities and research institutes the opportunity to launch their satellites. We have made this kind of invitation twice, including one for this year’s launch of the Venus Climate Orbiter AKATSUKI. We are keen to continue this program.
In the area of aviation, to respond to the great anticipated increase in air transport volume in the future, we will conduct research and development for new, safe and efficient aircraft navigation and flight-control systems, in collaboration with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as well as airline companies, using JAXA’s test aircraft.
While we emphasize the advancement of Japan’s aerospace industry, at the same time we collaborate with universities to study and develop new technologies and to enhance human resources. So far, JAXA has signed a cooperation and collaboration agreement with eight universities; this year we would like to further advance these relationships further.

Related Link: Aviation Program Group
  Promotion Office for Collaboration with Universities and Research Institutes

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