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Aug. 5, 2021 Updated
A new map of temperatures in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere reveals a solution to the planet’s “energy crisis”

Overview: the aurora that heats a planet

Sitting more than five times the distance from the Sun as the Earth, Jupiter is not expected to be particularly warm. Based on the amount of sunlight received, the average temperature in the giant planet’s upper atmosphere should be about 200 K or a chilly -73 Celsius. Instead, the measured value sits around 700 K or 420 Celsius. The source of this global heat has remained elusive for 50 years, causing scientists to refer to the discrepancy as an “energy crisis” for the planet.

Now research led by James O’Donoghue (JAXA) has found the likely source of Jupiter’s thermal boost. By creating the highest resolution global maps to date of the temperature of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere, the team has revealed that the main source of the extra heat is Jupiter’s powerful aurora.

Movie: Jupiter is first shown in visible light for context before an artistic impression of the Jovian upper atmos-phere's infrared glow is overlaid. The brightness of the upper atmosphere corresponds to temperature. From hot to cold: white, yellow, bright red, dark red. The aurorae are the hottest regions and the animation shows how heat may be carried by winds away from the aurora and cause planet-wide heating. The end of the ani-mation shows the real data with a temperature scale, indicating the observed global temperatures measured in the study. A still image is shown in Figure 3. (Credit: J. O'Donoghue (JAXA)/Hubble/NASA/ESA/A. Simon/J. Schmidt)

Auroras occur when charged particles are caught in a planet’s magnetic field. These spiral along the field lines towards the planet’s magnetic poles, striking atoms and molecules in the atmosphere to release light and energy. On Earth, this leads to the characteristic light show that forms the aurora borealis and australis. On Jupiter, the material spewing from its volcanic moon, Io, leads to the most powerful aurora in the Solar System and enormous heating in the polar regions of the planet. Although the Jovian aurorae have been a long-standing candidate heat source for the majority of the planet, observations have previously been unable to confirm or deny this until now.

Research details

The team observed Jupiter with the 10-metre Keck II telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai’i for five hours on two separate nights in April 2016 and January 2017. Using the Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSPEC) on the Keck II, emission from H3+ ions in Jupiter’s atmosphere was detected from the planet’s poles down to the equator. H3+ ions are a major constituent of the ionized part of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere and the intensity of the emission can be used to derive the temperature of that region.

Previous maps of the upper atmospheric temperature were formed using images consisting of only several pixels. This is not enough resolution to see how the temperature might be changed across the planet, providing few clues as to the origin of the extra heat. In order to improve the situation, the team took a two step approach. The first step was to utilise the power of the Keck II to take many more temperature measurements across the face of the planet. The second step was to only include a temperature measurement in the final map of the atmosphere if the uncertainty in the recorded value was less than 5%.

Figure 1: Temperature (top row), density (middle row) and radiance (lower row) of H3+ in Jupiter’s atmosphere (column-integrated). Long-dashed lines show the main region of the aurora, short-dashed line and solid line show the magnetic influence of the moons Io and Amalthea (Taken from O’Donoghue et al, 2021, Nature).

To achieve this, the team created five maps of the atmospheric temperature at different spatial resolutions. The highest resolution map had an average temperature measurement for every 2 degrees longitude x 2 degrees latitude of the planet. Lower resolution maps averaged the temperature across regions 4 degrees x 4 degrees, 6 degrees x 6 degrees, 8 degrees x 8 degrees and 10 degrees x 10 degrees. If any temperature measurement in the highest resolution map had too high an uncertainty, the value from a lower resolution map with improved uncertainty would be substituted. The result was a map that combined the highest possible resolution with the lowest uncertainty in the measurements: the best of both worlds for analysis.

“It took years of careful work to clean and map out the data and analyse it,” said James O’Donoghue. “The final products were temperature maps that are comprised of over ten thousand individual data points.”

A clear trend

The temperature maps of Jupiter's upper atmosphere show clear gradients, with temperatures decreasing from the polar auroral regions to the equator. This demonstrated that Jupiter’s aurora was circulating auroral energy planet-wide, with winds carrying the heated atmosphere to lower latitudes and adjacent longitudes.

The idea that the aurora could be the source of Jupiter’s mysterious energy had been proposed previously. However, global models of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere suggested that winds headed to the equator would be overwhelmed and redirected by west-ward winds driven by the planet’s rapid rotation. This would prevent the auroral energy from escaping the polar regions and heating the whole atmosphere. However, this new observational result suggests that such trapping is not occurring, and that the west-ward winds may be relatively weaker than expected compared with equatorward winds.

Figure 2: Jupiter is shown in visible light overlaid with an artistic impression of the Jovi-an upper atmosphere's infrared glow. The brightness of the upper atmosphere corre-sponds to temperature. From hot to cold: white, yellow, bright red, dark red. The aurorae are the hottest regions and show how heat may be carried by winds away from the auro-ra and cause planet-wide heating.
(Credit: J. O'Donoghue (JAXA)/Hubble/NASA/ESA/A. Simon/J. Schmidt)

From orbit around the Earth, JAXA’s Hisaki satellite has observed the aurora-generating magnetic field around Jupiter since the mission’s launch in 2013. This long term monitoring has revealed that Jupiter’s magnetic field is strongly influenced by the solar wind; a stream of high energy particles that emanates the Sun. The solar wind carries its own magnetic field and when this meets Jupiter’s planetary field, the latter is compressed. Further evidence for this interaction and the resultant heating was found when the team observed an extended high temperature region of gas that appeared to be propagating from the aurora. At the time of observation, pressure from the solar wind was particularly high at Jupiter and the field compression is likely to have created an enhanced aurora. The resulting heat wave was the structure spotted by the team as it began to move away towards lower latitudes.

"It was pure luck that we captured this potential heat-shedding event,” notes O’Donoghue. “If we’d observed Jupiter on a different night, when the solar wind pressure had not recently been high, we would have missed it!”

The discovery of the temperature gradient extending between Jupiter’s auroral region and equator may end the planet’s “energy crisis”. However, while auroras are expected phenomenon on giant gaseous words, the complex state of their winds may determine how effective the heat source is on different planets.

Journal paper information

Article title: Global upper-atmospheric heating on Jupiter by the polar aurorae

Journal title: Nature

Date of publication: 5 August 00:00 (JST)

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03706-wExternal Link
Corresponding Author: James O’Donoghue JAXA, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Authors:
L. Moore Center for Space Physics, Boston University
T. Bhakyapaibul Center for Space Physics, Boston University
H. Melin University of Leicester,
T. Stallard University of Leicester,
J. E. P. Connerney Space Research Corporation, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,
C. Tao National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT)

Dec. 7, 2020 Updated
Gas sampling from the Hayabusa2 sample container

This morning (December 7), the recovery team confirmed that the re-entry capsule was properly sealed and completed the gas sampling work.

Although we analyzed the collected gas and evaluated the data, we have not yet determined whether it originates from the sample from Ryugu.

A detailed analysis will continue in Japan.

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Equipment brought to Australia for gas analysis.
© JAXA

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After the completion of the set-up of the clean booth, a test run is underway.
© JAXA

Dec. 6, 2020 Updated
Completion of Transportation of Hayabusa2 Re-entry Capsule to QLF

The helicopter carrying Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule arrived at the Quick Look Facility (QLF) at 8:03 December 6, 2020 (JST).

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Re-entry capsule collection

Dec. 6, 2020 Updated
Result of Hatabusa2 Re-entry Capsule Search

Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule re-entered the atmosphere at around 2:28 a.m. on December 6, 2020 (JST). The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) searched for the capsule by helicopter and located its landing site in WPA, Australia at 4:47 December 6, 2020 (JST).
Capsule recovery operations will take place in the morning of December 6, 2020 (JST).
* WPA : Woomera Prohibited Area

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Fireball taken from Coober Pedy

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Fireball taken from Coober Pedy

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Fireball taken from Coober Pedy

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Fireball taken from Coober Pedy

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Fireball taken from Coober Pedy

Dec. 5, 2020 Updated
Successful Separation of Hayabusa2 Re-entry Capsule

It was confirmed from telemetry and Doppler data that Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft as planned at 14:35 on December 5, 2020 (JST).

May 22, 2020 Updated
[HAYABUSA2 PROJECT] Messages from our members overseas

When the start of the second ion engine operation on May 12 was announced to Hayabusa2 project members overseas, they showered the local team with messages! As the current situation with the novel coronavirus is creating difficult times worldwide, we would like to share these encouraging replies that uplifted the team here in Japan.


[HAYABUSA2 PROJECT] Messages from our members overseas

Jun. 27, 2019 Updated
JAXA and CNES Sign Implementing Arrangement on Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) and Hayabusa2

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has agreed to cooperate with Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) on the study-phase activities in JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration(MMX) mission and analysis of Hayabusa2-returned samples.
Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA and Jean-Yves LE GALL, President of CNES signed the two Implementing Arrangements for MMX and Hayabusa2 cooperation on June 26, 2019.

On the occasion of the visit by Mr. Emanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, to Japan, the exchange ceremony of the signed two Implementing Arrangements took place at the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan in the presence of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Emmanuel Macron.

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About the Implementing Arrangement concerning cooperative activities related to Martian Moon eXploration (MMX) mission studies

The MMX mission is planned to observe Mars’ two moons, Phobos and Deimos and to collect surface material from one of the moons to bring back to Earth. It aims to clarify the origin of the Martian moons and the process of evolution for Mars region and to improve technologies required for future exploration.
MMX is currently in the phase of preparation for developing a spacecraft and the launch is targeted in FY2024.

CNES will contribute to this mission by providing the near infrared spectrometer (MacrOmega) and the knowledge and expertise of the Flight Dynamics, as well as by conducting studies of rover which is to be equipped on MMX spacecraft jointly with German Aerospace Center (DLR).

For more information on MMX, visit:

About the Implementing Arrangement concerning cooperative activities related to analysis of Hayabusa2 return samples by MicrOmega at JAXA Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center

Hayabusa2 is a successor of Hayabusa. By investigating the asteroid Ryugu(type-C asteroid)and collecting samples for return to Earth, it aims to clarify the origins and evolution of Earth as well as organic materials that formed the oceans and the life.
Hayabusa2 was launched on December 3, 2014 and arrived at Ryugu in June 2018. It is scheduled to return to Earth at the end of 2020.

Under this agreement, CNES will provide the infrared spectroscopy microscope (MicrOmega) to be equipped in JAXA Extraterrestrial Samples Curation Center. It will contribute to improve the analysis of asteroid samples. In addition, this agreement stipulates the data policy which defines how to share and manage data from the MicrOmega.

For more information on Hayabusa2, visit:

Jun. 20, 2019 Updated
JAXA and DLR Make and Sign Implementing Arrangement on Martian Moons eXploration (MMX)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has agreed to cooperate with German Aerospace Center (DLR) on the study-phase activities in JAXA's Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission.
Hitoshi Kuninaka, Vice President of JAXA and, Hansjörg Dittus and Walther Pelzer, Executive Board Members of DLR have signed the Implementing Arrangement at the Paris Airshow in France on June 18, 2019.

The MMX mission is planned to observe Mars' two moons, Phobos and Deimos and to collect surface material from one of the moons to bring back to Earth. It aims to clarify the origin of the Martian moons and the process of evolution for Mars region and to improve technologies required for future exploration. DLR will contribute to this mission by conducting studies of the rover which is to be equipped on MMX jointly with Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and by providing JAXA with opportunities of experiments using the Drop Tower in Germany. DLR will also support German scientists for their participation in the MMX mission.

MMX is currently in the phase of preparation for developing a spacecraft and the launch is targeted in FY2024.

For more information on MMX, visit: MMX Web Site.

Jun. 17, 2019 Updated
Agreement with European Space Agency (ESA) for cooperation on the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission: XRISM

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has agreed to cooperate with European Space Agency (ESA) on the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy
Mission: XRISM.
Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA and Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of ESA have signed the agreement in presence of ESA Council Delegates at the European Space Operation Center in Darmstadt, Germany on June 14, 2019.

The XRISM project, kicked off in 2018, is the seventh X-ray astronomy satellite program of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, JAXA. It aims at the early recovery of the prime science objective "to solve outstanding astrophysical questions with high resolution X-ray spectroscopy" of ASTRO-H whose operation was ceased in 2016.

Under the agreement, JAXA and ESA have agreed to apply the cooperation developed through ASTRO-H in XRISM. In addition to contributing to the development of one of XRISM's most important instruments, the Soft X-ray Spectrometer, ESA will also support European scientists for their participation in the XRISM project.

XRISM is currently under development and is scheduled to be launched in FY2021.

For more information on XRISM, visit: XRISM Web Site.

Apr. 24, 2019 Updated
CLASP2 Rocket Experiment Launched

The CLASP2 sounding rocket experiment launched on April 11, 2019 at 10:51 a.m. MDT (01:51 a.m. JST on April 12) from the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, USA. It reached 274 km at maximum altitude and observed the Sun for 6 minutes from above 160 km. After the observations, the instrument parachuted down to the White Sands Desert, and was carried back to the laboratory. All the data stored in the instrument were recovered successfully.

CLASP2 Sounding Rocket launch.

CLASP2 Sounding Rocket launch. (credit: US Army Photo, White Sands Missile Range)


Apr. 4, 2019 Updated
[HAYABUSA2 PROJECT] SCI (Small Carry-on Impactor) Operation Schedule

The Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) operation will take place between April 3 – 6. This is an impact experiment to create an artificial crater in a designated area.


[HAYABUSA2 PROJECT] SCI (Small Carry-on Impactor) Operation Schedule

Mar. 28, 2019 Updated
[HAYABUSA2 PROJECT] Revised illustrations of Hayabusa2

At the beginning of the Hayabusa2 Project, realistic illustrations were drawn by Akihiro Ikeshita. These illustrations have now been revised to match the actual asteroid Ryugu.


[HAYABUSA2 PROJECT] Revised illustrations of Hayabusa2

Jun. 26, 2017 Updated
B17-04 Scientific Balloon Testing

On June 24, 2017, at 3:33 a.m. JAXA launched B17-04, the second of the first series of Japanese fiscal 2017 balloon tests. When fully deployed, a 5,000-cubic-meter aerostatic balloon extends a 23-meter diameter. Built with new load tapes*, B17-04 was released from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field and ascended at 330 meters/m. JAXA is granted use of the Taiki Aerospace Research Field based on JAXA—Taiki-cho collaboration initiative.
Hour and a half after the launch, B17-04 reached the float altitude of 24 kilometers above the Pacific Ocean, approximately 50 kilometers east of the Research Field. At 6:09 a.m., following the separation command the balloon and control equipment started descent, and fell at a point 20 kilometers south east off the origin of flight, offshore the Pacific Ocean. Then by 6:50 a.m. pickup was done by a ship that JAXA dispatched to the site.
At the time of B17-04 deployment, it was clear; wind speed 1.5 meters/s; temperature 11.7 C.

*Load tapes, inserted vertically/meridionally along the sealing lines of adjacent gores serve as the skeleton of a scientific balloon. To sustain a heavy payload in Earth’s stratosphere lying over 30 kilometers up from the ground, fibers of a load tape must provide ample reinforcement and low extensibility. Prior to this test, JAXA had used tapes made by foreign manufacturers. For B17-04 flight, a new, light weight Japanese-made product has been adopted for the first time.

B17-04 Scientific Balloon Testing

Jun. 23, 2017 Updated
B17-02 Scientific Balloon Test

On June 23, 2017, at 4:47 a.m. JAXA launched B17-02, the first scientific balloon of the series of Japanese fiscal 2017 balloon test operations. The balloon was set aloft from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field, premises that JAXA uses based on JAXA—Taiki-cho collaboration initiative. The objective is capturing sampling of stratospheric microorganisms.* A giant scientific balloon 30,000 cubic meters in maximum volume, 42 meters in radius of the circular cross-section, rose approximately at 330 meters/m.
1.5 hours after the launch, B-17-02 hit the float altitude of 28 kilometers, approximately 40 kilometers east south-east of the Research Field. At 6:50 a.m., both the balloon and the devices for sample retrieval, cut off by a separation signal, dropped in the Pacific Ocean 15 kilometers south east of the Research Field. By 7:40 a.m., JAXA sent a ship to the landing spot and the salvage was completed.
At B17-02 launch, it was cloudy; wind speed 1.5 meters/s; ground temperature 15.5 C.

*Some reports have been made that collected stratospheric and mesospheric samples, proving that microorganisms exist in those layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. JAXA believes acquiring knowledge of the species and distribution of microbes high up in the atmosphere provides scientific insight into the upper edge of the biosphere. In B17-02 test operation, using the parachute, the attached apparatus obtains microbiological sampling as it descends through the atmosphere. Collected particulate and microbiological samples will go through detailed analysis.

B17-02 Scientific Balloon Test

Mar. 29, 2017 Updated
Arase off to Science Operations Phase

JAXA confirmed completion of the commissioning phase of ARASE, formerly known as ERG, Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace. ARASE has entered its science operations phase. The call was made as the following procedure took place as scheduled and was confirmed; the satellite post launch orbital systems are in place, their functions are determined as fine, all monitoring instruments are installed, and the motions of the monitoring equipment are checked.
ARASE is in good condition, with all its onboard apparatus for science observations performing well since activated.

Arase off to Science Operations Phase

Jan. 23, 2017 Updated
Arase critical operation phase successfully completed!

JAXA confirmed completion of the critical operations phase of Arase (ERG), Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace. It results from a sequence of significant tasks that occurred as anticipated: perigee up maneuvers and extension of its wire antennae and masts.
Arase is currently in good condition and is scheduled to enter into a two-month commissioning phase, then followed by a science operations phase.

Arase critical operation phase successfully completed!

Dec. 20, 2016 Updated
Success of Epsilon-2 Launch with ERG Aboard

JAXA successfully launched the second Epsilon Launch Vehicle with Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) aboard at 8:00 p.m. on December 20, 2016 (JST) from the Uchinoura Space Center. The launch vehicle flew as planned, and at approximately 13 minutes and 27 seconds after liftoff, the separation of ERG was confirmed.

The signals were received in the Santiago Ground Station, the Republic of Chile at 8:37 p.m. (JST). ERG's solar array paddles have been deployed as planned. Also, ERG has completed the attitude control based on the sun acquisition.
JAXA has nicknamed ERG "ARASE".

Success of Epsilon-2 Launch with ERG Aboard

Dec. 19, 2016 Updated
Epsilon-2/ERG launch time decided! Live broadcast from 7:40 p.m. on December 20 (Tue.)

The launch time of the second Epsilon Launch Vehicle with Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) was set for 8:00:00 on December 20 (Tue.), 2016 (Japan Standard Time).
JAXA will broadcast a live launch report from the Uchinoura Space Center from 7:40 p.m. on the day. You can watch it through the Internet. Please have a look!

Epsilon-2/ERG launch time decided! Live broadcast from 7:40 p.m. on December 20 (Tue.)

Nov. 15, 2016 Updated
The Launch date of the Epsilon-2 with the ERG satellite on board- December 20

JAXA announced that the second Epsilon Launch Vehicle with Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) on board will be launched sometime between 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on December 20, 2016 (Japan Standard Time). Live launch coverage from the Uchinoura Space Center will be carried on YouTube. More detail will be available shortly.
JAXA is happy to hear from dear readers. Please send words of encouragement to the project members of the Epsilon and of the ERG mission.

The Launch date of the Epsilon-2 with the ERG satellite on board- December 20

Oct. 24, 2016 Updated
"ERG" Put on View to Media

On October 20, "ERG", the Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace was shown to the media in the Uchinoura Space Center, Kimotsuki-cho, Kimotsuki-gun, Kagoshima.

Image: "ERG" in clean room of the M rocket launch site
In the Telemeter Center on the premises, Project Manager Iku Shinohara and Project Scientist Yoshizumi Miyoshi addressed the general facts of "ERG" and the scientific contributions that "ERG" is expected to make. Enhanced Epsilon will carry "ERG" on board. Preparation for launch is underway.

"ERG" Put on View to Media

Sep. 30, 2016 Updated
Geospace satellite "ERG" released to the media

On September 29 (Thu.), the Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace "ERG" made its appearance to the press at the Sagamihara Campus.
The ERG satellite carries nine cutting-edge instruments as well as hope of many to discover the mystery of the Van Allen belts. The geo probe is scheduled to be launched by the Epsilon launch vehicle from Uchinoura Space Center in JFY2016.

Geospace satellite "ERG" released to the media

Jul. 22, 2016 Updated
The Magnetosphere Has a Large Intake of Solar Wind Energy

Solar wind forms the energy source for aurora explosions. How does the Earth’s magnetosphere take in the energy of the solar wind? An international team led by Hiroshi Hasegawa and Naritoshi Kitamura (ISAS/JAXA) analyzed data taken by the US-Japan collaborative mission GEOTAIL and NASA’s MMS satellites and revealed that the interaction between the magnetic fields of Earth and the Sun, or more precisely the phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection, can feed the aurora explosions.
JAXA plans to launch a new spacecraft called the ERG satellite that aims to observe the inner region of the magnetosphere. Collaborative observations with GEOTAIL and ERG satellites will help to understand phenomena taking place in the geospace.

Image: Artist concept of the GEOTAIL and the MMS missions to study how does the Earth’s magnetosphere take in the energy of the solar wind. (Credits: ISAS/JAXA)

The Magnetosphere Has a Large Intake of Solar Wind Energy

Jun. 14, 2016 Updated
Scientific balloon B16-01 experiment completed - High altitude flight test for Mars probe airplane

JAXA conducted the second balloon release of the first scientific balloon experiment in JFY 2016 on June 12 (Sun.), 2016, aiming at a high-altitude flight test for a Mars probe airplane.
The balloon was released at 3:33 a.m. on the 12th from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field, which is a base for cooperation between the host town Taiki. The balloon entered in a state of horizontal floating at an altitude of 36 km over the Pacific Ocean some 45 km east from the Taiki Field at two hours and 25 minutes after its release. At 6:20 a.m., a radio command was sent to detach the test plane. Four minutes later, the balloon and a control instrument were also detached by the command, and they landed softly on the ocean about 35 km east from the Taiki Field. They were recovered by a boat at 7:04 a.m.
Concerning the flight test for a Mars probe airplane, we missed data for some part of the flight, but we will analyze the acquired data in detail for our future research.
With the test this time, we completed the first scientific balloon experiment. We would like to express our deep appreciation to all pertinent people and organizations for their cooperation.

* To achieve a Mars probe airplane, it is imperative to perform aerodynamic design of the plane to fit it for flight in the very thin atmosphere of one hundredth compared to that on the Earth. We conducted the test this time at a high altitude where we can simulate the Mars’ atmospheric density to acquire aerodynamic data for the plane. We will further analyze various data acquired from the test to incorporate the analysis results into future Mars probe airplane designs.

Scientific balloon B16-01 experiment completed - High altitude flight test for Mars probe airplane

Jun. 8, 2016 Updated
Scientific balloon experiment B16-02 to capture microorganisms in the stratosphere

JAXA released the first scientific balloon in Japan Fiscal Year 2016 from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field, which is a base for cooperation between the host town and JAXA, at 3:43 a.m. on June 8 (Wed.), 2016. The purpose of this experiment is to capture microorganisms in the stratosphere. The balloon used this time is a large-size one with a maximum expansion volume of 15,000 cubic meters (33.5 meters in diameter), and it ascended at a speed of 300 meters/minute.
The balloon entered in a state of horizontal floating at an altitude of 28 km over the Pacific Ocean some 35 km east from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field at one hour and 40 minutes after its release. At 5:50 a.m., the balloon and an instrument to collect microorganisms were detached by a radio command and they landed softly on the ocean about 30 km east from the Taiki Field. They were recovered by a boat at 6:28 a.m.

* We so far have a few reports about the existence of microorganisms in the upper Earth atmosphere (in the stratosphere and mesosphere) through collecting microorganisms. Understanding the kinds of organisms in the upper atmosphere and clarifying their distribution are very important to learn about the upper end of the Earth’s biosphere. The experiment this time aimed at capturing microorganisms while the instrument to collect them was detached from the balloon and descending by a parachute. After collection, microorganisms and particle specimens in the instrument are to be analyzed.
Scientific balloon experiment B16-02 to capture microorganisms in the stratosphere

Feb. 25, 2016 Updated
Let Geospace satellite “ERG” carry your support message!

We are inviting you to have your message travel on the ERG satellite to explore the Van Allen belts, which is the last frontier in space around the Earth.
Please send your support message to the mission of the “Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace” or “ERG”, which is scheduled to be launched in JFY2016. The messages will be printed on an aluminum plate that will be installed on the satellite as part of a balance weight.

Let Geospace satellite “ERG” carry your support message!

Aug. 24, 2015 Updated
Scientific balloon experiment BS15-07 and completion of the first series of balloon experiments in JFY2015

JAXA released the balloon “BS15-07” from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field at 5:02 a.m. on Aug. 22 (Sat.), 2015, aiming at verifying onboard instruments and operation of the satellite “EGG”*, which will be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS). The balloon was 11 meters in diameter when it was fully expanded, and it was ascending at a speed of about 380 meters per minute.
The weather balloon reached an altitude of 31.7 km over the Pacific Ocean at about 55 km east north east from the Taiki Field. The test object was slowly descending by a parachute and splash-landed at 95 km east north east from the Field. With this experiment, we completed the first series of balloon experiments in JFY 2015. We would like to express our profound appreciation to all pertinent parties who have supported the experiments.

* The experiment this time is part of the development project of the “Membrane Aeroshell for Atmospheric-entry Capsule”, which is expected to be applied for a future Earth re-entry (return) system. The experiment this time is a preliminary-phase test prior to the actual satellite “EGG” (re-Entry satellite with Gossamer aeroshell and GPS/Iridium) under development by a group led by the University of Tokyo. EGG will be deployed from the ISS.
Scientific balloon experiment BS15-07 and completion of the first series of balloon experiments in JFY2015

Aug. 7, 2015 Updated
Completion of Scientific balloon experiment BS15-03

JAXA released the balloon "BS15-03" from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field at 4:12 a.m. on Aug. 6 (Thu.), 2015, for the purpose of cryogenic sampling in the atmosphere at the stratosphere. The volume of the balloon when it was fully expanded was 100,000 m3 (with a diameter of 63.4 m), and it was ascending while gathering the atmosphere of the stratosphere.
The balloon reached an altitude of 34.8 km over the Pacific Ocean at about 50 km east from the Taiki field in three hours, then it was in a state of horizontally floating. At 7:49 a.m., the balloon and observation instrument was detached by a command radio wave to slowly descend to the ocean at about 30 km south east of the field. They were retrieved by a boat before 8:30 a.m.

* The purpose of this experiment was to gather a large amount of stratospheric atmosphere, which is thin, by solidifying it using a cryogenic method to collect most atmospheric contents via condensation solidification, then to provide the gathered atmosphere for density and isotope ratio measurement of various atmosphere contents including greenhouse gas.
While the balloon was ascending, horizontally floating and descending slowly, atmosphere was collected for each altitude. The gathered atmosphere will be analyzed in detail using an analyzer at each university.
Completion of Scientific balloon experiment BS15-03

May 15, 2015 Updated
Scientific balloon experiment in Australia

On May 12, JAXA conducted a scientific balloon experiment in cooperation with some universities including Kobe University and Nagoya University from the balloon release base of the University of New South Wales, Australia. The experiment aims at elucidating the spatial structure of a celestial body and the gamma-ray emission mechanism by attaining high resolution observations using the emulsion gamma-ray telescope of Kobe and Nagoya Universities.
The balloon was released at 6:03 a.m. on May 12 (Japan Standard Time), and landed at 8:25 p.m. on the same day.

Scientific balloon experiment in Australia

Sep. 9, 2010 Updated
Scientific balloon experiment BS10-06 completed

At 5:38 a.m. on September 8, 2010, JAXA released the fourth balloon of the second balloon experiment in Japan Fiscal Year 2010 from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field, the base of the collaborative work. The release experiment, called BS10-06, aimed at testing the high-altitude thin film balloon flight performance and observing the ozone and atmospheric gravitational waves. The balloon that was expanded to its full capacity of 60,000 m3 was made of a thin film for high altitude with a thickness of 3.4 micrometers, and it ascended about 300 meters per minute.
In this experiment, we achieved the scheduled objectives of flight verification for a thin-film high-altitude balloon using the polyethylene thin film that is wider than conventional films, and the balloon's tearing mechanism for a thin-film balloon. At the same time, the balloon carried out precise observations on the ozone, wind velocity, temperature and air pressure using two kinds of ozone measurement devices -- an optical type and electrochemical type (ECC,) -- to observe the ozone's altitude distribution and atmospheric gravitational waves between the near ground area and the upper stratosphere. Both the high-precision ECC ozonesonde and the precision optical ozonsonde functioned properly at an altitude of less than 30 km and higher than 30 km respectively, and we successfully observed the upper stratospheric regions at an altitude of 46.8 km.
We were able to acquire enough data to study changes in the ozone and atmospheric gravitational waves over years and places by comparing the data from this experiment with the first data acquisition at the Taiki Aerospace Research Field, and past observation results acquired at the Sanriku Balloon Center.

Scientific balloon experiment BS10-06 completed

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