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The Forefront of Space Science


February 22 updated

Exploring Fine Solid Particles Distributed in Vast Outer Space / Takashi ONAKA - Professor, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo -

Numerous fine solid particles called “interstellar dust” float in interstellar space. Knowledge of the location and abundance of this dust is indispensable to understand the universe, and the elucidation of the dust’s actual nature is one of the most important themes in modern astronomy. This article investigates the dust’s actual nature based on past observations. It is expected that the Japanese infrared astronomical satellite, ASTRO-F, to be launched in 2006, will contribute greatly to the advancement of dust research.

(ISAS News: December 2005 issue)

February 06 updated

To Produce Lunar Gravitational Field Map:Toward Success of SELENE’s Micro Satellites, Rstar and Vstar / Takahiro IWATA - Planetary Science Department, ISAS -

The lunar explorer “SELENE,” planned for launch in 2007, will investigate the lunar gravitational field with the two micro satellites as well as the main satellite, and contribute greatly to elucidation of the internal structure of the Moon. In particular, it will use innovative technology for the first time in the world to observe the Moon’s far side with drastically improved accuracy .

(ISAS News: November 2005 issue)

January 11 updated

Do “medium-sized black holesEexist? / Ken EBISAWA - Professor, Center for Planning and Information Systems, ISAS -

Many black holes exist in the universe. Using observations by several satellites launched by ISAS, their real identity is being clarified. Unsolved questions remain, however. This article introduces research based on the latest observation results and theory regarding the question of the “medium-sized black hole.”

(ISAS News: October 2005 issue)

December 22 updated

Development and Future of Microgravity Experiment System Using a Balloon / Shujiro SAWAI - Associate Professor, Space Systems and Astronautics Department, ISAS -

Microgravity experiments contribute greatly to science and technology. There are many ways to produce a microgravity environment, such as freefall test facilities on the ground, in aircraft and space vehicles. JAXA is now developing a system using a balloon to simplify creation of microgravity conditions for a longer time at a lower cost. The system is also utilized for the development of space planes of the future.

(ISAS News: September 2005 issue)

November 07 updated

The Solar Corona - Seeking the Source of its Activity and Heating / Toshifumi SHIMIZU - Associate Professor, Research Division for Basic Space Science, ISAS -

Although the Sun is the star the most familiar to us, it still has many unsolved mysteries, for example, the high-temperature solar corona. This article introduces efforts to seek the source of coronal heating as well as expectations for the SOLAR-B satellite planned for launch in 2006.

(ISAS News: August 2005 issue)

August 17 updated

The Science of Containerless Levitation and Supercooled Melts / Takehiko ISHIKAWA - Associate Professor, Space Biology and Microgravity Science Department, ISAS -

Containerless levitation offers many advantages, such as the simple production of a “supercooled state,” and contributes to the advancement of science and technology. This article introduces an electrostatic levitation furnace developed by JAXA, and describes the various challenges of JAXA using electrostatic levitation technology, including the measurement of physical properties of high-temperature metals and the creation of new functional materials.

(ISAS News: June 2005 issue)

July 28 updated

GEOTAIL Satellite - Detailed Story of Astrophysical Gamma-ray Observation / Toshio TERASAWA - Professor, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo -

The magnetosphere explorer GEOTAIL is not merely observing the earth’s magnetosphere. It also successfully caught solar flare’s gamma rays. Moreover, on December 27, 2005, it made a perfect observation of a huge flare that occurred on the Soft Gamma-ray Repeater SGR1806-20, the results of which has been published in “Nature.”

(ISAS News: May 2005 issue)

April 14 updated

The Night Sky is Bright !? - Exploring the First Light in the Universe- / Toshio Matsumoto - Professor, Infrared Astrophysics Department -

The sky we observe is full of cosmic background radiation. This background radiation is the key to reveal the origins and history of the universe. This article presents observational results on background radiation so far and, based on those results, explores for the mysteries of the universe.

(ISAS News: February 2005 issue)

March 23 updated

“The Next Goal for RocketsEor “The World of the Swindler?E/ Yoshifumi INATANI - Space Systems and Astronautics Department, ISAS -

Will the age arrive where reusable rockets are viable for business? A change in our way of thinking is necessary for that. This article discusses what is necessary for the future of rockets and the next goal.

(ISAS News: January 2005 issue)