Tag Archives: NASA

Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory Satellite Launched

Japan’s space agency has successfully launched an H2A rocket carrying a satellite that can survey precisely rainfall on most of the earth.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the rocket lifted off at 3:37 AM from Tanegashima Space Center, southern Japan.

It flew as planned and released the satellite 16 minutes after launch at the height of 400 kilometers.

The satellite, co-developed by Japan and the US, is aimed at a detailed monitoring of rainfall on the earth using radars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AtpYK2sCoXU

NASA, Japan Release Improved Topographic Map Of Earth

NASA and Japan released a significantly improved version of the most complete digital topographic map of Earth on Monday, produced with detailed measurements from NASA’s Terra spacecraft.

The map, known as a global digital elevation model, was created from images collected by the Japanese Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, instrument aboard Terra. So-called stereo-pair images are produced by merging two slightly offset two-dimensional images to create the three-dimensional effect of depth. The first version of the map was released by NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in June 2009.

"The ASTER global digital elevation model was already the most complete, consistent global topographic map in the world," said Woody Turner, ASTER program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "With these enhancements, its resolution is in many respects comparable to the U.S. data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), while covering more of the globe."

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NASA’s iRobot PackBot looks inside Japan’s nuclear reactor

Design techniques honed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for Mars rovers were used to create the rover currently examining the inside of Japan’s nuclear reactors, in areas not yet deemed safe for human crews.

The iRobot PackBot employs technologies used previously in the design of "Rocky-7," which served as a terrestrial test bed at JPL for the current twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. PackBot’s structural features are modeled after Rocky-7, including the lightweight, high-torque actuators that control the rover; and its strong, lightweight frame structure and sheet-metal chassis.

PackBot’s other "ancestor," called Urbie, was an urban reconnaissance robot with military and disaster response applications.

Read the rest of the story: NASA technology looks inside Japan’s nuclear reactor.

US astronauts to ‘bottle’ space for Japan

Two American astronauts began on Monday the first of two spacewalks to install a permanent spare closet on the orbiting International Space Station and also to bottle some outer space for Japan.

The unusual project is part of a team effort with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, to open up a metal cylinder that has been signed by other astronauts, and bring it back for public display.

The so-called "Message in a Bottle" experiment, in which they will "expose a metal canister to capture the vacuum of space," is planned for the end of the six-hour spacewalk, NASA said.

In the meantime, astronauts Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew set about taking care of some more technical matters, by attaching a new extension power cable for backup purposes between the Unity node and the Tranquility module.

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Astronaut Wakata to be 1st Japanese Captain of ISS

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata will stay at the International Space Station for six months starting at the end of 2013 and will serve as the first Japanese captain of the ISS in the last two months of the mission, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Wednesday. It will be the fourth space mission for Wakata, 47, and also be his second long-term assignment, the organization known as JAXA said. Wakata will be shuttled to the ISS aboard Russia’s Soyuz, it said.

"I am fully realizing the importance of the mission," Wakata said in a statement.

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JAXA giving NASA a run for the money on a shoe-string budget

JAXA’s mission are far more ambitious than its budget would suggest.

The agency has no manned missions and operated on 339 billion yen (four billion dollars) this fiscal year — less than one-tenth of the NASA budget, and less than half the annual cost of Europe’s space programme.

Space officials are now fighting back against any further government belt tightening as they plan a follow-up probe to Hayabusa in 2014, which would explore an asteroid named 1999JU3.

JAXA says it hopes its probe would find "organic or hydrated materials" on the asteroid, and to find out whether "there is any relation to life on Earth".

The science and technology minister, Yoshiaki Takagi, last month vowed that "we will strive to secure the budget so that we can offer maximum support" for the Hayabusa-2 project.

His ministry has requested a 100-fold boost to the research budget for Hayabusa-2 to some three billion yen next year.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan sounded sympathetic when he said last month that Japan "must be committed" to space projects.

In future the space agency may take on an even more ambitious task.

An expert panel advising the minister for space development has called for sending a wheeled robot to the Moon in five years — having first considered a two-legged humanoid, which was rejected because of the Moon’s bumpy surface.

It envisions building the first lunar base by 2020, which could be staffed by advanced robots, as a key stepping stone for Japan’s space exploration, a field where Asian competition is heating up.

"It is extremely important to probe the Moon… as we now see the dawn of ‘the Age of Great Voyages’ in the solar system," the panel said, pointing out that "China, India and other countries are aiming to probe the Moon."

The government’s Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy believes a successful space programme does much to lift Japan’s profile on Earth.

"Our country’s space technology, its achievements and human resources are truly diplomatic resources that would boost our influence and position in the international community," it said in a policy report.

"We will promote them as a source of our soft power."

via Japan’s low-cost space programme pushes the limits.