JAXA Aims to Lead World in Lunar Frontier Medicine

mukaiThe JAXA website has a lengthy interview with astronaut Chiaki Mukai, who is manager of the agency’s Space Biomedical Research Office.  She talks in depth about the current state of Japanese space medical research, how it will use the newly installed Kibo module aboard the International Space Station, and her nation’s aim to be the leader in the area of lunar frontier medicine.

The biggest reason to study moon medicine is that lunar gravity is so weak compared to Earth’s. On the ISS, we can study the effects of microgravity, and we already know that in that environment, bones and muscles develop abnormalities. But we don’t know what happens on the Moon’s surface, which has one sixth of Earth’s gravity. At what level of gravity are abnormalities triggered? By investigating these aspects, we might be able to understand the mechanisms of diseases and physiological phenomena that are obscured by Earth’s gravity. So that’s why I am very interested in moon-base medicine.

The United States and Russia are far ahead of us in research on zero gravity, because they have their own manned rockets and a long history of research. But when it comes to moon-base frontier medicine, all countries are currently on par, so Japan has a chance to lead the world in this field.

Read the full interview.