Space BD to Provide Small Satellite Deployment Service from ISS to ASTROFLASH

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading space startup in Japan that provides access to space using the International Space Station Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and rideshares on Japan’s flagship launch vehicle “H3,” announced that it will provide SmallSatellite deployment service from the International Space Station to ASTROFLASH Inc. ASTROFLASH is a startup that aims to bring space closer to everyday life through the world’s first satellite platform for visual attraction. The two companies have signed the launch service contract.

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A Sunburned Ryugu: Asteroid Surface Weathered by the Sun

Artificial crater on asteroid Ryugu (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — New information about the surface and orbit of Ryugu has been uncovered from analyzing data obtained during touchdown and the global observations performed by the asteroid explorer, Hayabusa2. These findings have been published in the electronic version of the US scientific journal Science, on May 7, 2020 (May 8, JST: Morota et al, 2002). The paper was led by Associate Professor Tomokatsu Morota from the University of Tokyo and member of the Hayabusa2 science team.

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Bacteria in Rock Deep Under Sea Inspire New Search for Life on Mars

Aerobic bacteria live densely packed into tunnels of clay minerals found in this sample of solid rock, collected from 122 meters beneath the seafloor. Image B is 1,000 times greater magnification than Image A. The left-side photo in each image was taken using normal light and the right-side photo was taken using fluorescent light. The solid basalt rock is gray, the clay minerals are orange, and the bacterial cells are green spheres. (Credit: Suzuki et al. 2020, DOI: 10.1038/s42003-020-0860-1, CC BY 4.0)

Microbes live in tiny clay-filled cracks in solid rock millions of years old

TOKYO (University of Tokyo PR) — Newly discovered single-celled creatures living deep beneath the seafloor have given researchers clues about how they might find life on Mars. These bacteria were discovered living in tiny cracks inside volcanic rocks after researchers persisted over a decade of trial and error to find a new way to examine the rocks.

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Hayabusa2 Images Ryugu’s Surface at Highest Resolution Yet

Figure 1. Image of Ryugu captured by the ONC-T at an altitude of about 64m. Image was taken on September 21, 2018 at around 13:04 JST.This is the highest resolution photograph obtained of the surface of Ryugu. Bottom left is a large boulder. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST).

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — When Hayabusa2 descended towards Ryugu for the MINERVA-II1 deployment operation, the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic) captured images at the highest resolution to date.

This next figure shows the location of Figure 1 on Ryugu.

Figure 2. Region of the highest resolution image. Yellow boxes correspond to the region in Figure 1. (Left) The region is shown on the ONC-T global image of Ryugu. (Right) ONC-W1 image, taken at 70 m height. 2018-09-21 13:02(JST). (Image credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST).

Highest resolution image obtained by Hayabusa

Figure 3. High resolution image of the surface of asteroid Itokawa photographed by Hayabusa. “D” is taken from an altitude of 63m. It is thought that the so-called “Muses Sea” (official name “MUSES-C Regio”) is covered with a “gravel” of granules with diameters from a few mm to few cm. (From Yano et al, Science Vol 312 2, June 2006)











Hayabusa2 Arrives at Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu photographed by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo and collaborators)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — JAXA confirmed Hayabusa2, JAXA’s asteroid explorer rendezvoused with Ryugu, the target asteroid.

On June 27, 2018, JAXA operated Hayabusa2 chemical propulsion thrusters for the spacecraft’s orbit control.*

The confirmation of the Hayabusa2 rendezvous made at 9:35 a.m. (Japan Standard Time, JST) is based on the following data analyses;

  • ・The thruster operation of Hayabusa2 occurred nominally
  • ・The distance between Hayabusa2 and Ryugu is approximately 20 kilometers
  • ・Hayabusa2 is able to maintain a constant distance to asteroid Ryugu
  • ・The status of Hayabusa2 is normal

From this point, we are planning to conduct exploratory activities in the vicinity of the asteroid, including scientific observation of asteroid Ryugu and surveying the asteroid for sample collection.

*Hayabusa2 operation hours: 7:00 a.m. (JST) through 3:00 p.m. (JST), June 27. The thruster operation was pre-programmed in the event sequence earlier on the day and the command was automatically executed.











Smallsat 2016: Japan Increases Participation in Conference

Ikaros solar sail CubeSat (Credit: JAXA)
Ikaros solar sail CubeSat (Credit: JAXA)

Japan increased its presence at the Small Satellite Conference in Utah this week, with 21 organizations displaying their capabilities and a presentation by the University of Tokyo about the nation’s smallsat programs.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan (METI) participated in the conference for the first time, setting up a booth where the Japanese space agency JAXA, 18 companies and two universities advertised their capabilities (see the list below).

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International Partners Contribute CubeSats for First SLS Flight

EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft) will measure the distribution of plasma that surrounds the Earth to help scientists understand the radiation environment in the region of space around Earth. It will also demonstrate low-energy trajectory control techniques, such as multiple lunar flybys, within the Earth-Moon region. (Credit: JAXA/University of Tokyo)
EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft) will measure the distribution of plasma that surrounds the Earth to help scientists understand the radiation environment in the region of space around Earth. It will also demonstrate low-energy trajectory control techniques, such as multiple lunar flybys, within the Earth-Moon region. (Credit: JAXA/University of Tokyo)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) will launch America into a new era of exploration to destinations beyond Earth’s orbit. On its first flight, NASA will demonstrate the rocket’s heavy-lift capability and send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft into deep space. The agency will also take advantage of additional available mass and space to provide the rare opportunity to send more than a dozen small satellites, called CubeSats, to conduct experiments beyond low-Earth orbit. In addition to the 10 CubeSats announced earlier this year, the agency will be sending three from international partners.

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JAXA Testing Deep Space Microsat With Asteroid Flyby

PROCYON (Credit: JAXA)
PROCYON (Credit: JAXA)

With all the attention that JAXA’s recently launched Hayabusa2 soil sample return mission has received, a secondary spacecraft sent into space along with it on Dec. 3 has been largely overlooked despite its ambitious objectives.

PROCYON, which stands for PRoximate Object Close flYby with Optical Navigation, is a 65-kg (143 lb.) spacecraft designed to demonstrate that micro-satellites can be used for deep-space exploration. In addition to testing out micro-sat systems in deep space, the spacecraft is to conduct a close flyby of an asteroid.

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