JAXA President Monthly Press Conference February 2020

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. on February 14 (Fri), 2020
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Keiichi Murakami,Manager,Media Relations Division,Public Affairs Department

The 50th Anniversary of the Launch of Japan’s First Satellite “Osumi”

Just 50 years ago on February 11, 1970, the first Japanese satellite was launched by the Lambda rocket L-4S No. 5. The satellite was named after the Osumi Peninsula in Kagosihma Prefecture where the launch site is located at the Uchinoura Space Center. “Osumi” successfully orbited the Earth after the fifth launch and Japan became the fourth country that can launch a satellite on its own. This heralded the dawn of Japan’s space exploration and space development.
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the launch of “Osumi,” we held “Space Science, Exploration and Osumi Symposium” on February 11 at the National Museum of Nature and Science. One hundred and fifty-two people participated in the symposium. There were two keynote addresses at the symposium. While I was listening to the lecture by Dr. Ryojiro Akiba, who has been involved in various satellite and rocket experiments under Dr. Hideo Itokawa during the time of a Pencil rocket, I thought about the passion of forefathers for rocket and satellite development and challenges they went through at that time. During the panel discussion in the latter half of the symposium, panelists, while looking back at space science and exploration for the last 50 years, actively discussed space development for the next 50 years.
The Lambda rocket that successfully launched “Osumi” was a solid-fuel rocket. Based on the Lambda rocket, the M (Mu) rocket model series, which were developed to launch a scientific satellite, were eventually evolved, after improved again and again, into the full-fledged M-V (Mu-five) rocket for launching planet explorers. In 2003, M-V No. 5 rocket launched Asteroid Explorer “HAYABUSA.” In this way, the M-V rocket model series have launched many scientific satellites. JAXA developed the Epsilon rocket that succeeds M-V and is now operating it. On the other hand, the development of liquid-fuel rocket to launch a large satellite for communication, broadcasting and meteorology has brought about H-IIA/B rocket, which has launched various satellites, explorers and the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) “KOUNOTORI” that delivers supplies to the International Space Station.
In this way, Japan already possesses key technologies that are advantageous to space activities including rocket, satellite and ground facilities. This makes Japan one of the few countries in the world that can autonomously conduct space activities, as you know. JAXA is currently advancing the development of the H3 rocket to replace the H-IIA. We will finally launch the new rocket in next fiscal year. In the development of the H3 rocket, we standardized the solid rocket booster with the Epsilon rocket’s first stage motor and are examining the standardization of the attitude control systems with gas jets and avionics (electronics equipment to be loaded). The development of the two mainstay rockets (H3 rocket and the Epsilon rocket) is aimed at producing a synergy effect.
In order to maintain and develop Japan’s space transportation capabilities, JAXA is committed to steadfastly advancing the development of the mainstay rocket toward the next 50 years.

Results of Manifestation of Antibacterial Activity by Materials Irradiated by Atomic Oxygen

As we did a press release a while ago, I would like to report on the results of manifestation of antibacterial activity by materials irradiated by atomic oxygen as a result of joint research between JAXA’s Research and Development Directorate and Kureha Corporation.

Atomic oxygen is an elemental form of oxygen broken apart by the effect of ultraviolet radiation. The low Earth orbit at an altitude of several hundred kilometers where the International Space Station (ISS) and earth observation satellites orbit has a lot of atomic oxygen. Since the collision with atomic oxygen erodes the surface of plastic material used for spacecraft, it is recognized as a cause to undermine the effectiveness of spacecraft materials. For this reason, JAXA has long conducted research on the impact of atomic oxygen on spacecraft materials and measures to prevent the negative effect.

In the joint research with Kureha Corporation, evaluation tests conforming to “Antimicrobially processed product: Treated antibacterial performance test methods/antibacterial effects” of the Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) were recently conducted on plastic surfaces irradiated by atomic oxygen. As a result, the manifestation of antibacterial activity against coli and Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) was confirmed in multiple samples.

Atomic oxygen undermines the effectiveness of spacecraft materials in space, but it was found out that it produces antibacterial properties by changing the micro shape of the surface of material without adding other materials (such as conventional antibacterial agents, etc.) not originally included in the material itself.

This finding is expected to expand the range of using atomic oxygen from the safety viewpoint such as the sustainability of antibacterial effect and measures against resistant bacteria. As the knowledge obtained by the joint research will lead to, for example, the potential to create microscopic surface roughness through a simple post-processing (additional processing) on diverse materials, the broader application of the finding is expected in the future . JAXA intends to continue the joint research and develop it into the application to practical materials.

Successes of Social Implementation of Earth Observation Outcomes

I would like to report on two successes of social implementation of the JAXA Earth Observation outcomes.

The first success is, as we did a press release last month, is the collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

We invited Deputy Director-General for Programmes Daniel Gustafson of FAO, who came to Japan for the Annual Strategic Consultation with the government of Japan, to JAXA’s Tsukuba Space Center on January 23 and the agreement between JAXA and FAO on data utilization of Earth observation satellites was signed. Specifically, JAXA will provide its dataset on global forest/non-forest and mangrove, which JAXA creates every year, and observation data from the Advanced Land Observing Satellite “DAICHI,” to the System for Earth Observation Data Access, Processing and Analysis for Land Monitoring (SEPAL), a platform operated by FAO capable of creating information on forest and land cover online. This makes it possible to use the JAXA-provided information on the “SEPLA” platform.

The Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) currently loaded on “DAICHI2” is characterized by the capability to function both day and night without being hampered by weather. PALSAR, as it can penetrate rain and clouds, is suitable for the Earth surface observation of tropical areas, which are often clouded during the rainy season, etc.

Leveraging this cooperation, JAXA and FAO will promote the monitoring of forests and mangroves around the world by JAXA’s satellites with L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).

Grasping and evaluating forest resources around the world and cooperating with FAO, which provides training for the preservation of forests to various countries in the world including developing countries, presents an opportunity for JAXA to provide its highly accurate information on the utilization of forest resources and land by taking advantage of JAXA’s technologies and contribute to Japan’s technology diplomacy.

The second success, on which we also did a press release last month, is the provision of the new chart for Asian dust or Kosa (Kosa, meaning “Yellow Sands” or “Yellow Dust” in Japanese) analyzed forecast by the Japan Meteorological Agency that started on January 29.

This is the information provision service by a new system that incorporates observation data from the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite “Himawari” into the Asian dust analyzed forecast model by data assimilation methods, which is an outcome of the joint research among JAXA, Japan Meteorological Agency, Meteorological Research Institute and Kyushu University.

In the whole system of the Asian dust analysis forecast model, it has been confirmed that the precision in forecasting for the next two days improved by about 10%. This is for the first time in the world for a meteorological agency to integrate aerosol’s optical properties observed by a geostationary meteorological satellite into the current system that forecasts atmospheric fine particles called aerosol including the Asian dust.

JAXA’s role in this joint research was the application of the aerosol predicting algorithm from satellite observation data, the algorithm we accumulated through the past earth observation satellites projects, to the “Himawari”-8 and the “Himawari”-9 satellites. As a result, JAXA contributed to predicting a wide range of the Asian dust distribution including the major sources of the Asian dust such as Gobi Desert and Taklamakan Desert.

We think this is a good example in which results of JAXA’s earth observation research contributed to social implementation for a work-site operation agency like the Japan Meteorological Agency. We would like to continue cooperating with relevant agencies to improve assimilation and forecast methods and advance research toward the introduction of the latest satellite data so that we can further improve the level of precision.

“Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Workshop 2020”

January this year marks the one year anniversary of the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-1,” which was launched from the Uchinoura Space Center.

The “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program” is a program aimed at providing an opportunity for Japanese companies, research institutes and universities, etc. to demonstrate their superb technologies and ideas in space. For example, after the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-1” was launched in January last year, each theme of a total of 13 demonstration themes from 10 organizations have been demonstrated on orbit including the demonstration of a new green propellant propulsion system, space application of solar paddle using thin-film solar cells, innovative Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) unique to Japan and CubeSat wireless communication by using amateur radio.

On the occasion of the one year anniversary, we will report on the results of demonstrations to date and hold a workshop for introducing the role to be performed by the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program” in Akihabara on March 5 (Thu). We welcome the participation of a wide range of people who consider participating in the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program and are interested in the technologies of demonstration themes.