JAXA President Monthly Press Conference June 2022

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. on June 10 (Fri), 2022
Venue: Online
MC: Kaori Sasaki, Director, Public Affairs Department

Time flies and we are in June already.

JAXA's Tsukuba Space Center was established on June 1, 1972, and this year marks its 50th anniversary. As a leading base for space development in Japan, we are proud of our achievements, including the development and operation of satellites; analysis of observation images; development of launch vehicles and transportation systems; promotion of research in establishing technological foundations; development of manned space technology; and space environment utilization projects. We would not have been able to operate the Tsukuba Space Center for 50 years without the cooperation and understanding of local communities. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the people of Tsukuba City and Ibaraki Prefecture.

Astronaut NOGUCHI Soichi retired from JAXA on June 1 after 26 years of service mainly at the Tsukuba Space Center. Astronaut Noguchi has done distinguishes service, leading Japan's manned space activities by completing difficult missions on three spaceflights in 2005, 2009, and 2020. I am very proud of his achievements. I would also like to send words of cheer to Astronaut Noguchi for his new challenges in the future.

1. Announcement of “Hayabusa2” Science Results Paper

The analysis of the sample from asteroid Ryugu obtained by Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa2" is being conducted by researchers in Japan and overseas. Today, June 10, two papers on the results were published in academic journals.

I would like to briefly review the procedure for the analysis of the sample from Ryugu.
First, for a period of about 6 months from December 2020 to about June 2021, Phase-1 curation activities were conducted, including sample retrieval, sorting, and the analysis of basic conditions, etc.
Since June 2021, analyses have been conducted by the “Hayabusa2 Initial Analysis Team,” which consists of six sub-teams, and two "Phase-2 curation" institutions, Okayama University and Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) .
The six sub-teams of the Initial Analysis Team consists of: (1) chemical analysis; (2) rock material analysis; (3) sand material analysis; (4) volatile component analysis; (5) solid organic matter analysis; and (6) soluble organic matter analysis, with researchers from six universities leading the research.
In the Initial Analysis and Phase-2 curation, of the total 5.4 grams of Ryugu sample, 6% was used for the initial analysis and 4% for the Phase-2 curation. In this way, these analyses are being conducted by truly combining wisdom and technical capabilities of Japanese researchers and research institutions.
The two papers published today, one by the Chemical Analysis Team in the Hayabusa2 Initial Analysis Team and published in the American scientific journal, “Science,” and the other by the Okayama University Phase-2 curation institution and published in the Proceedings of the Japan Academy.
I will not go into the details of each paper. Each team conducted chemical analysis of the samples. For example, the Chemical Analysis Team paper shows that the Ryugu sample has the same chemical composition ratio as the Ivuna-type carbonaceous chondrites (CI chondrites), which is considered the standard substance of the Solar System, and retains the most primordial characteristics. Only nine CI chondrites found on Earth are valuable and have been found to be altered by the contamination of the Earth's environment. In this way, it has been found out that the Ryugu sample is the freshest state of Solar System standard substance.

Other teams are also in the process of compiling their research results, and we plan to announce the results when their findings will be published in a research paper. We are also considering to provide another overall summary report of the “Hayabusa2” science after all the initial results from the Initial Analysis and Phase-2 curation are published.
We are really looking forward to subsequent research results and can't wait to see them.

On the other hand, in the International Announcement of Opportunity, which invites research proposals from unique perspectives from researchers around the world, we released the Ryugu sample catalog in January this year and began accepting research proposals in March. We have received many more proposals than expected. Samples will be distributed to selected research proposers by the end of June.

We hope that the participation of domestic and foreign researchers will lead to further analysis and research, and that many research results will be reported, which will help to elucidate not only the origin of planets, but also the origin of water and the raw materials of life.

2. Commencement of Intensive Observations and Provision of Satellite Data Based on Joint Research with the Japan Meteorological Agency's Meteorological Research Institute on Elucidating the Mechanism of Linear Rainbands

In linear rainbands, cumulonimbus clouds form one after another, resulting in noticeably heavy rainfall, which has frequently caused serious disasters to buildings and people in recent years.
In order to accelerate research into the mechanism of how linear rainbands form, the Japan Meteorological Agency in cooperation with 14 university research institutes began intensive observations in western Japan, mainly in Kyushu, in June.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency's glossary, a linear rainband is "a rainfall area with strong precipitation extending in a linear pattern 50 to 300 km long and 20 to 50 km wide. The rainfall area is created by organized cumulonimbus-cloud groups, which are formed by a series of rain clouds (cumulonimbus clouds) developing one after another that pass or remain in the same location for several hours.”
By taking advantage of JAXA's strengths of ground-based and space-based observations, we believe that JAXA can contribute to the elucidation of the mechanisms of linear rainbands and the improvement of forecast accuracy.

Prior to the intensive observation, JAXA and the Japan Meteorological Agency's Meteorological Research Institute (hereinafter referred to as the “MRI”) signed an agreement in May regarding the promotion of research to contribute to the elucidation of the mechanism of linear rainbands and the improvement of forecasting technology, as well as entitled "Research on the elucidation of the mechanism of linear rainbands using satellite data such as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) and ground-based observation instruments.”

As part of JAXA's specific efforts, ground-based observation instruments will be installed at the Kumamoto District Meteorological Observatory and Nagasaki University during the rainy season this year to observe precipitation particles that make up linear rainbands.
In addition, the product of earth observation satellites such as the GPM core satellite, Water “SHIZUKU” satellite, and Climate SHIKISAI satellite, as well as observation data from ground-based instruments, will be provided to the linear rainband database operated by the MRI and distributed to the MRI and other universities and research institutes participating in the intensive observation.
JAXA has also released the "JAXA Linear Rainband Intensive Observation Monitor" on the JAXA website, which provides near real-time images of these observation data for a wide range of people to view. One of the purposes of this is for each agency to understand the current status of linear rainbands, but at the same time, we believe that this will be useful for the "visualization" of observation status that JAXA is carrying out.

In addition, JAXA carries out observations at sea using ships and aircraft to understand environmental fields that affect the formation and maintenance of linear rainbands. Although outside the scope of this agreement and joint research between JAXA and the MRI, the JMA's shipboard GNSS (Note: Global Navigation Satellite System) observations utilize correction information from the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System “MICHIBIKI,” which is generated using the precise GNSS orbit and clock estimation software developed by JAXA. This will make it possible to monitor in real time the amount of water vapor over the East China Sea, which contributes greatly to the development of linear rainbands, and is expected to contribute to improved forecast accuracy. In this way, we would like to work toward further implementation of JAXA's satellite technology into the social infrastructure.

Lastly, I would like to reiterate that we will contribute to research on elucidating the mechanisms of linear rainbands and improving forecast accuracy in collaboration with various organizations through the provision of intensive ground-based observation data, Earth observation satellite products from space, and various satellite technologies.

3. H3 Launch Vehicle First Stage Engine Combustion Test Status

I would like to inform you of the development status of the LE-9 engine, which is being newly developed as the first stage engine for the H3 Launch Vehicle.

A blade vibration test is being conducted at the Tanegashima Space Center to verify countermeasures for the issues that need to be addressed, which occurred in the turbopump. Also, technical data acquisition is being conducted at the center to verify the function and performance of the additively manufactured injector to be used in the Test Flight No.2 and the subsequent flights of H3 Launch Vehicle, with the aim of reducing costs.
The blade vibration test along with additively manufactured injector test has been conducted three times so far on May 17, May 24, and June 2. We are continuing to conduct detailed evaluation of the data acquired as a result of these tests.

In addition, we are planning to conduct unit tests of the turbo pump at the Kakuda Space Center in late June or later to verify other countermeasures that we have been studying in parallel.