JAXA Eyes Phobos Landing, Sample Return

Martian moon Phobos

The Asahi Shimbun reports on a proposal for a sample return mission to Mars’ moon Phobos.

JAXA officials submitted a plan to the science ministry on Feb. 19 that calls for the probe to attempt a landing on Phobos to collect rocks and sand.

The probe will use similar technology installed on the Hayabusa 2 probe, which allowed JAXA to collect and retrieve samples from the asteroid Ryugu in 2019.

Hayabusa 2 is scheduled to release a capsule containing those samples above Australia at the end of this year.

A new H-3 rocket will be used to launch the exploration plan dubbed MMX in September 2024.

Astroscale Selected as Commercial Partner for JAXA’s Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration Project

TOKYO, February 12, 2020 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing technology and services to remove space debris and secure long-term orbital sustainability, today announced it has been selected as the commercial partner for Phase I of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) first debris removal project, a groundbreaking step by Japan to commercialize space debris removal.

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Japan’s Super Low Altitude Test Satellite (SLATS) Tsubame Sets Guiness World Record

Computer generated image of Tsubame. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that its Super Low Altitude Test Satellite “TSUBAME” (SLATS) was registered by the Guinness World Records (*1) as having achieved the “lowest altitude by an Earth observation satellite in orbit.”

1. Details on the Guinness World Record set by the Super Low Altitude Test Satellite “TSUBAME” (SLATS)
URL: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.jp/world-records/592663-lowest-altitude-earth-observation-satellite-in-orbit

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JAXA Signs Agreement for Piggyback Launch Opportunities for Small Satellites

H-III launch vehicle variants (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has selected, following public solicitation, and signed an agreement with Space BD Inc. who provides private companies and universities with piggyback launch opportunities for their small satellites when JAXA launches its own satellites using H-IIA and H3 launch vehicles.

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Ryugu Impact Crater Data Analysis Illuminates Complicated Geological History

Figure 1: Size and location of craters on Ryugu (Figure from the Journal paper): The craters are numbered in order of size.

KOBE, Japan (Kobe University PR) — Analysis of the impact craters on Ryugu using the spacecraft Hayabusa 2’s remote sensing image data has illuminated the geological history of the Near-Earth asteroid.

A research group led by Assistant Professor Naoyuki Hirata of the Department of Planetology at Kobe University’s Graduate School of Science revealed 77 craters on Ryugu. Through analyzing the location patterns and characteristics of the craters, they determined that the asteroid’s eastern and western hemispheres were formed at different periods of time.

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NASA IG: Decide Future of the International Space Station Soon

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The sooner NASA can decide the future of the International Space Station (ISS), the easier it will be for the space agency to pursue its Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon by 2020, according to a new report from its Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“Whether NASA decides to extend, increase commercialization of, or retire the ISS, the timing of each of these decisions has a cascading effect on the funding available to support space flight operations in low Earth orbit, ambitions for establishing a permanent presence on the Moon, and ultimately sending humans to Mars,” the report stated.

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JAXA Launches Space Media Business Partnerships on ISS

Credit: JAXA

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Bascule Inc. (Representative Director & President: Masayoshi Boku), SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation (Representative Director, President & Chief Executive Officer: Eiichi Yonekura), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (President: Hiroshi Yamakawa) announced the launch of activities to establish a studio in the International Space Station (ISS) to generate the “space media business.”

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Research Launching on SpaceX Dragon to Enable Better Earth Images, Easier Leak Checks

This image of the Chapman Glacier, located on Ellesmere Island in Canada, was taken by ASTER. Formed by the merger of several smaller glaciers, rocky debris on top of the glacier clearly marks the edge of each glacier. The JAXA Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) is a follow-on to ASTER, serving as a next-generation, space-borne hyperspectral Earth imaging system. (Credits: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The 19th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-19) contract mission for NASA carries a variety of cutting-edge scientific experiments to the International Space Station. The Dragon cargo spacecraft blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Dec. 4, 2019.

Its payloads include investigations studying malting barley in microgravity, the spread of fire and bone and muscle loss, which will be added to the dozens of research projects already under way aboard the microgravity lab.

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First Detection of Sugars in Meteorites Gives Clues to Origin of Life

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2, 2018, by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (Credits: NASA/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — An international team has found sugars essential to life in meteorites. The new discovery adds to the growing list of biologically important compounds that have been found in meteorites, supporting the hypothesis that chemical reactions in asteroids – the parent bodies of many meteorites – can make some of life’s ingredients. If correct, meteorite bombardment on ancient Earth may have assisted the origin of life with a supply of life’s building blocks.

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How ISS is Helping Pave the Way for the Moon

The moon from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is a stepping stone for NASA’s Artemis  program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. As the only place for conducting long-duration research on how living in microgravity affects living organisms, especially humans, as well as testing technologies to allow humans to work at the Moon, the space station serves as a unique asset in the effort establish a sustainable presence at the Moon.

Missions to the Moon will include a combination of time aboard the  Gateway, on the lunar surface, and in multiple spacecraft including Orion and the human landing system. The skills and technologies developed to explore the Moon will help build the capabilities needed for future missions to Mars. Here are some of the ways this orbiting laboratory is contributing to the path forward to the Moon and Mars.

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Japan’s Super Low Altitude Satellite Tests New Technologies

Super Low Altitude Test Satellite TSUBAME (SLATS) (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Most satellites that are observing the Earth fly at an altitude of 600 kilometers to 800 kilometers above ground. When they are at that height, they hardly receive the effects of Earth’s atmosphere, and are able to remain in orbit in a stable manner for a long period of time.

The Super Low Altitude Test Satellite TSUBAME (SLATS) is about to defy this conventional way of orbiting satellites. This is the first ever Earth observation satellite that uses a super low orbit at an altitude of 300 kilometers or less.

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Application of Aerothermo Dynamics CFD for HTV Small Re-entry Capsule Project

Results of aerodynamic heating analysis at the time when the HTV small re-entry capsule (HSRC) entered into the Earth’s atmosphere. It analyzed the temperature distributions over the surface, and the level of how much the surface was heated. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Continuous research effort on the high-fidelity numerical simulation to predict various physical phenomenon have been made in research and development directorate.

Efficient development risk identification and mitigation become possible by using numerical simulations rather than the high-cost experiments. In addition, an efficient investigation on the key physics mechanisms are also possible since the detailed physical data distributions are available.
Numerical simulations have been applied to wide variety of design problems such as the H3 rocket, the spacecrafts and the aircrafts.

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JAXA Developing New Water Recovery System to Create Drinking Water from Urine

New water recovery system. A key feature is that it does not require maintenance by the astronauts. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Right now, work is underway on a construction plan for a moon-orbiting space station called Gateway. The goal is to be able to use Gateway as a base for conducting manned explorations to the moon, Mars and other planets lying further beyond.

However, in order to expand the areas in which human beings can venture into, we need to minimize the amount of supplies such as water, food, and research materials that must be transported from Earth to the target destination. This new water recovery system announced in July 2019 will make a significant contribution toward achieving this.

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Renovation of Launch Facilities for H3 Launch Vehicle

The ML has two umbilical masts (posts) colored in white and light blue. Reaching the total height of 66.5 meters and having the 7-meter high upper deck, this massive structure is extremely impressive. (Credit: JAXA)

KOGOSHIMA SPACE CENTER, Japan (JAXA PR) — The development of JAXA’s new rocket, the H3 Launch Vehicle, is steadily advancing toward the first launch in FY2020. Here at the Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC), renovation and construction work is also under way to prepare the launch facilities for the H3 rocket.

Its highlights are a new Movable Launcher (ML) and its transporters Dollies. The ML is a platform on which parts transported from factories are assembled into a rocket in the Vehicle Assemble Building. Before launch, a rocket on the ML is carried by the Dollies to the launch pad.

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