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Topics 2018

July 2018

Jul. 10, 2018 Updated
Participation of JAXA President in UNISPACE+50

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) organized UNISPACE+50 from June 18th to 21st, 2018 in Vienna International Center, Austria to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of UNISPACE I (Reference 1). More than 70 countries and organizations, and participants from ministerial level (14 participants) and heads of agencies (10 participants) participated in the conference. Ambassador Kitano, Permanent Representative and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna represented the Japanese delegation. Dr. Yamakawa, JAXA President, also participated in the conference.

During the high-level segment of UNISPACE+50, Dr. Yamakawa represented Japan and made a statement regarding Japan's recent space activities. He also delivered a speech during the Heads of Agencies Panel, and introduced JAXA's contributions to SDGs. He had meetings with various space agencies and signed two agreements—agreement regarding the extension of KiboCUBE cooperation programme with UNOOSA, and an implementation agreement concerning cooperation on validations, improvement, and applications of rainfall products using satellite images and ground measurements with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). (Reference 2,3)

Jul. 6, 2018 Updated
JAXA’s ALWIN Earned President’s Award of the Japan Aeronautical Engineers Association

ALWIN, Airport Low-level Wind Information was prized with the President's award of the Japan Aeronautical Engineers Association. Since last April, the award-winning technology, co-developed by JAXA and Japan Meteorological Agency, has been in operation at Haneda and Narita International airports.

ALWIN accurately measures low level wind direction, speed, wind shear, turbulence, and associated data along approach and departure paths and provides visual alerts to pilots and other aviation staffers in text and image. The system improves safety in aircraft arrivals and takeoffs and helps reduce delays. Evaluated positively by airliners, ALWIN is in use right at the heart of the air traffic services.

Development is underway of SLOWIN, SOdar-based Low-level Wind Information, a less costly counterpart of ALWIN. Testing has been conducted since last year at local airports to validate this new system.

JAXA’s ALWIN Earned President’s Award of the Japan Aeronautical Engineers Association

Jul. 4, 2018 Updated
Stereo image of asteroid Ryugu by Dr. Brian May

Brian May, the lead guitarist from the British rock band, Queen, has created a stereoscopic image of Ryugu from photographs captured with the ONC-T camera onboard Hayabusa2, so that the asteroid can be viewed in three dimensions. Brian May is an astronomer, with a doctoral degree in astrophysics from Imperial College London. He has a strong interest in planetary defense or space guard, which considers the potential threat to the Earth from meteorites. As part of this, May is a core member of "Asteroid Day", that began about three years ago to increase awareness of asteroids and action that can be taken to protect the Earth.

Image to be used with red/blue stereo glasses.

Stereo image of asteroid Ryugu by Dr. Brian May

June 2018

Jun. 29, 2018 Updated
Arrival at Ryugu!

1302 days after the launch from Tanegashima Space Center on December 3, 2014,
Hayabusa2 has fonally arrived at the target asteroid Ryugu. The arrival time was 9:35 am JST on June 27, 2018. From here, we can begin to fully explore Ryugu.

After the end of the ion engine operation on June 3, 2018, Hayabusa2 began the final asteroid approach phase. Optical navigation was used to precisely aim for the asteroid’s location. During the approach, the chemical propulsion thrusters were used to perform nine Trajectory Correction Maneuvers (TCM) to control the velocity of the spacecraft, with a tenth TCM made at the above time for arrival. After the final TCM10, the relative speed between Hayabusa2 and Ryugu was 1 cm/s or less and arrival at the asteroid was declared.

Arrival at Ryugu!

Figure: Group photo commemorating arrival at Ryugu. This is our triumphant pose (known as the "guts pose" / ガッツポーズ in Japanese).

Jun. 25, 2018 Updated
Asteroid Ryugu seen from a distance of around 40km

Hayabusa2 is close to arriving at asteroid Ryugu. After a journey of around 3.2 billion km since launch, our destination is finally near. Two small objects will soon meet in outer space 280 million km from the Earth.

Figure :
Asteroid Ryugu photographed by the ONC-T on June 24, 2018 at around 00:01 JST.
Credit : JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST

Asteroid Ryugu seen from a distance of around 40km

Jun. 20, 2018 Updated
JAXA signs Implementation Arrangement (IA) with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) concerning cooperation on validations, improvement, and applications of rainfall products using satellite images and ground measurements

JAXA and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) signed the Implementation Arrangement (IA) concerning cooperation on validations, improvements, and applications of rainfall products using satellite images and ground measurements.

This cooperation was agreed between JAXA and ISRO under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was concluded in November 2016 between both agencies to promote collaboration in the space field. JAXA will provide observation data of Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM)/ Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) and Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation (GSMaP), while ISRO will provide observation data of ISRO meteorological satellite and ISRO’s ground instruments, and both agencies will analyze the data for improving rainfall products. Also, JAXA and ISRO will contribute to the enhancement of satellite data applications especially in the Asia region where there is heavy annual rainfall. Application includes improvement in accuracy of the Numerical Weather Prediction by using satellite data.

Jun. 19, 2018 Updated
Ryugu seen from 330-240km

The ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic) captured images of Ryugu on June 17, 2018 at around 15:00 JST and June 18 at around 06:00 JST. At 15:00 JST on June 17, the distance to Ryugu was approximately 330 km, which had decreased to 240 km by June 18 at 06:00 JST.

The following figures show the original images taken by the ONC-T, without any pixel smoothing. The order of the photographs is not chronological, but show the sequential rotation of the asteroid. The change in distance is compensated by keeping the size of the asteroid constant through the image set.

Ryugu seen from 330-240km

Jun. 16, 2018 Updated
From a distance of about 700km, Ryugu's rotation was observed.

Using the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic), asteroid Ryugu was photographed continuously from June 14, 2018 at around 21:00 JST through to June 15, 2018 at around 05:10 JST. Figure 1 shows a looped animation of the 52 captured images.

The distance to Ryugu when the images were captured was between about 700 - 650 km. In these photographs, Ryugu is approximately 12 - 13 pixels in diameter. The animation in Figure 1 shows the photographs after image processing has been performed to smooth between the pixels so that the asteroid’s surface looks smooth.

From a distance of about 700km, Ryugu's rotation was observed.

Jun. 14, 2018 Updated
Ryugu seen from a distance of 920km

Hayabusa2 is steadily approaching asteroid Ryugu. Figure 1 shows a photograph of Ryugu taken on June 13, 2018 with the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera-Telescopic) from a distance of about 920km. The celestial body shining brightly in the center of the frame is Ryugu. The movement of Ryugu (in comparison to the background stars) can be seen by comparing this image with those taken on June 6 and June 10. The brightness of Ryugu is now about -6.6 mag (astronomical magnitude: a logarithmic scale for the apparent brightness for an object).

Ryugu seen from a distance of 920km

Jun. 8, 2018 Updated
MIO, MMO's New Name

JAXA selected MIO as new name for the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) to be launched this Japanese fiscal year through March 2019. 6,494 responded to the two-month-long MMO renaming project. JAXA conveys gratitude for their participation. Starting this month, JAXA is giving the godparents a token of appreciation.
MIO and MPO* aboard Ariane 5 will launch together, separate after landing, observe Mercury in cooperation for a year.

*The MPO, Mercury Planetary Orbiter does observations of the planet's surface and internal composition. MIO, Mercury's magnetic field and magnetosphere.

Namesake and Background

1. The definition of the word mio in the original Japanese is a waterway or fairway. It is a fitting name denoting how far the MMO mission has come, navigating its course past important research and development milestones. It also carries the connotation of wishing the spacecraft a safe journey.
2. Historically, markers called mio-tsukushi were posted to guide boats sailing at rivers and sea. In traditional Japanese poetry, mio-tsukushi interchangeably means working hard without giving up. This describes the diligent and tenacious sprit of the MMO project team who never ceases to challenge.
3. The spacecraft will travel through the solar wind, a continuous stream of plasma that the Sun emits in the Mercury's magnetosphere. The Mercury's magnetospheric interference constantly affects the state of the solar wind in orbit. It conjures up the image of a sea vessel underway with its bow heading forward.
4. Mio is easy to say for many, especially those who do not speak Japanese.

Image: An artist rendering of MIO and Mercury

MIO, MMO's New Name

Jun. 7, 2018 Updated
Ryugu seen from a distance of 2600km

On June 3, 2018, ion engine operation was completed and the final approach to the asteroid begun. By photographing the asteroid with the Optical Navigation Camera, optical navigation (precisely “hybrid navigation using optical and radiometric observations”) can be used to approach Ryugu while accurately estimating the trajectory of the spacecraft and asteroid.

Ryugu seen from a distance of 2600km

Jun. 1, 2018 Updated
JAXA President Meets with NASA Administrator and ROSCOSMOS General Director

On May 1, 2018, Dr. Hiroshi Yamakawa, JAXA President and Mr. Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology met with Mr. Jim Bridenstine, Administrator of NASA at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Dr. Yamakawa expressed his congratulations to Mr. Bridenstine on his appointment as NASA Administrator, and they exchanged views on US-Japan space cooperation including the International Space Station (ISS) program and the future space exploration. They also confirmed that they will further strengthen the cooperation between two agencies.

In addition, Dr. Yamakawa and Mr. Masaji Matsuyama, Minister of State for Space Policy met with Dr. Dmitry Rogozin, General Director of State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS at the Kremlin in Moscow by taking opportunity of the live communication event between two countries’ leaders and the ISS.

Dr. Yamakawa expressed his congratulations to Dr. Rogozin on his appointment as General Director of ROSCOSMOS, and they confirmed that they will continue the good relationship and further strengthen the cooperation in the space field.

(Right to left) Mr. Hayashi, Mr. Bridenstine, Dr. Yamakawa

(Right to left) Dr. Rogozin, Mr. Matsuyama, Dr. Yamakawa

March 2018

Mar. 26, 2018 Updated
Name the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and send your message to Mercury onboard MMO!

We are looking for the right name for the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO)*, whose upcoming launch is in October 2018, that will give a relatable and familiar nickname so that everyone can follow our journey to Mercury. The person who suggests the selected name will recieve a certificate and souvenir!
We are also searching for people all over the world who are passionate about BepiColombo's journey to explore Mercury to provide messages, illustrations, audio, video and other media. A selection of these will be recorded and loaded onto the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) before it begins the journey towards our Solar System's innermost planet.
We are looking for messages as glowing as the incandescent planet of Mercury!
* BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA (the European Space Agency) and JAXA, led by ESA, to explore Mercury. The mission consists of two planetary orbiters: JAXA's MMO (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter) and ESA's MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter).

Name the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and send your message to Mercury onboard MMO!

February 2018

Feb. 9, 2018 Updated
Tanker oil spill in the East China Sea observation by ALOS-2/PALSAR-2

In January 6, 2018, Iranian company's tanker "SANCHI" (Panama flag) collided with a cargo ship (Hong Kong flag) in the East China Sea off the east coast of China and a fire broke out. The tanker drifted into Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) not being extinguished and exploded and sank at the sea about 315 km west of Amami Oshima in the afternoon of 14th. Oil is draining from the sunk tanker.
JAXA observed near the sinking point with synthetic aperture radar (PALSAR-2) equipped with “DAICHI-2” (ALOS-2) at 03:33 UTC on January 18th. Figure shows observing area with PALSAR-2 including the location of the sunk tanker. At the east side of the location, the Kuroshio flows from the southwest to the northeast (from Quick Bulletin of Ocean Conditions, Hydrographic and oceanographic Department, Japan Coast Guard).
In the future, we will continue observing near the accident site with our satellite.

Tanker oil spill in the East China Sea observation by ALOS-2/PALSAR-2

Feb. 6, 2018 Updated
Successful Launch Experiment, SS-520 No. 5

Exactly at 2:03 pm (Japan Standard Time) at the JAXA Uchinoura Space Center, JAXA experimented SS-520 No. 5 launch with a microsatellite TRICOM-1R aboard.
After liftoff, flight of SS-520 No. 5 proceeded normally. Around 7 minutes 30 seconds into flight, TRICOM-1R separated and was inserted into its target orbit.
SS-520 No. 5 launch experiment was the second attempt following the failure of SS-520 No. 4, which occurred in January 2017. Identification of the error and subsequent countermeasures resulted in the success of No.5 launch experiment. The No. 5 launch experiment was carried out to demonstrate the technology used for small satellite launcher.

Successful Launch Experiment, SS-520 No. 5

January 2018

Jan. 18, 2018 Updated
Success of Epsilon-3 Launch with ASNARO-2 Aboard

At 6:06:11 a.m. (Japan Standard Time) January 18, 2017, JAXA launched Epsilon-3, the third Epsilon launch vehicle which encapsulates NEC Small radar satellite "ASNARO-2", from the JAXA Uchinoura Space Center. The launch occurred on time. The launch and flight of Epsilon-3 took place normally. Approximately 52 minutes 35 seconds into the flight, the separation of ASNARO-2 proceeded, with confirmation as successful.

Success of Epsilon-3 Launch with ASNARO-2 Aboard

Jan. 12, 2018 Updated
First Light images from SHIKISAI (GCOM-C) were released

JAXA has released some observation images on the Earth acquired by the Global Change Observation Mission - Climate "SHIKISAI" (GCOM-C). The SHIKISAI was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center at 10:26:22 on December 23, 2017 (Japan Standard Time). These images are obtained by using the test radio wave transmitted from GCOM-C/SGLI on January 1st to 6th, 2018 (JST).
Image: Color composite image around the Okhotsk Sea Ice

First Light images from SHIKISAI (GCOM-C) were released

Updates 2018