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The Forefront of Space Science


May 24, 2013 updated

Measuring Plane Profile of Space Structures by Grating-Projection Method

Deployable space structures that can be stowed efficiently and lightweight are required. During development, it is important to predict their deployment behavior in orbit and post-deployment quantitative measurement. One effective method to fulfill these requirements is the grating-projection method. This article outlines the research and development status of this method, with its various merits such as short time measurement, by showing actual application examples.

(ISAS News: December 2012 issue)

May 28, 2014 updated

Planetary Plasma Environment and Atmospheric Outflow to be Elucidated by Extreme Ultraviolet Spectroscopy

Extreme ultraviolet (ultraviolet waves shorter than 105nm wavelength) can observe plasma and atmosphere invisible to the human eye. A project is advancing to use extreme ultraviolet to study the magnetospheres and atmospheres of Jupiter, Venus, etc., which differ from the earth’s. It is expected that this knowledge will lead us to reaffirm the earth’s environment and understand further the formation, birth and evolution of the solar system.

(ISAS News: November 2012 issue)

April 17, 2013 updated

Towards Realization of a Soft Atmospheric Entry Vehicle How was the Shiitake Mushroom-Type Experimental Vehicle Made?

Entry to the atmosphere is an unavoidable passage when returning from outer space or landing explorers on atmospheric planets such as Mars. The most difficult hurdle to entry is aerodynamic heating. To overcome this, a "deployable-type, flexible-membrane-structure aeroshell" was proposed, where an air-brake like umbrella unfolds to slow down the vehicle, and its effectiveness confirmed by computer simulation, wind-tunnel, balloon, and sounding-rocket experiments.

(ISAS News: October 2012 issue)

December 17, 2012 updated

Research on the Upper Atmosphere Region Using Sounding Rockets

The ionosphere (upper atmosphere region) is unique, differing from both the earth we live on and the universe. In the upper atmosphere region, neutral atmosphere and plasma co-exist. Sounding rockets provide opportunity to make in-situ observation of the region. This article introduces research on this region and the latest results by describing three examples of experiments using sounding rockets.

(ISAS News: September 2012 issue)

October 21, 2013 updated

Hybrid Rocket Will Go for the Next Generation of Space Transportation

The hybrid rocket carrying solid fuel and liquid oxidizer has a variety of advantages including safety, high-performance, environmental friendliness and high-functionality. It is expected that the rocket will meet the needs of future crew space transportation and/or low-cost cargo space transportation. Researchers from universities and ISAS are now actively working on various issues about the hybrid rocket.

(ISAS News: August 2012 issue)

October 29, 2012 updated

Experiment demonstrating the Viability of Easy, On-site Visualization of the Distribution of Radioactive Materials by the “Ultra-Wide-Angle Compton Camera”

Dust containing radioactive materials was dispersed widely following the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in March 2011. Gamma-rays are emitted when unstable nuclei in the radioactive materials decay. JAXA is developing high-sensitivity gamma-ray sensors for astronomical observations. Based on this technology, it is developing a "Ultra-Wide-Angle Compton Camera" in an attempt to contribute to the decontamination of materials.

(ISAS News: July 2012 issue)

May 28, 2014 updated

When Nature does Physics a favour

Everyone knows what is physics, however the question "What do physi- cists do?" does not have simple answer. The first answer popping up might be that one studies Nature in all its possible appearances. Obviously, this answer is absolutely correct, however it is useless since it does not give any spirit of Physics, in the sense that one cannot understand the way how Physics develops. This development can be illustrated, for example, by the change of the concept of light.

(ISAS News: June 2012 issue)

November 21, 2012 updated

When a Computer is Surprised

A spacecraft carries numerous computer chips. However, they sometimes malfunction unexpectedly. The cause of the anomaly is cosmic rays (high-energy particles) flying in the universe. When cosmic rays hit the chips, the wrong signal (SET noise) can be output. Following a long period of research, a significant result has been achieved in SET noise analysis.

(ISAS News: May 2012 issue)

August 24, 2012 updated

Supernova Remnants Explored by X-Rays

A supernova is huge explosion of stars ending their lives. Following the explosion, an extremely high-temperature plasma cloud or "supernova remnant" (SNR) is formed. SNRs shine brightly in X-ray. By the analysis of the rich data obtained from the most advanced X-ray astronomical satellites, many research results have been achieved, including the precise measurement of SNRs' proper motions and the detection of X-rays originating from charge-exchange reaction.

(ISAS News: April 2012 issue)

May 28, 2014 updated

Changes in Brightness and Color of the Moon by Observing Angle

Optical observation by visible and near-infrared light of the moon is very helpful in the exploration of the mineral composition of the lunar surface. For a detailed analysis of the observation results, however, “photometric correctionEis required. This article introduces research on the photometric correction for the Spectral Profiler onboard the lunar orbiting explorer KAGUYA.

(ISAS News: March 2012 issue)

August 6, 2012 updated

Dynamics in a Galaxy Cluster Explored by SUZAKU

The dynamical measurement of celestial bodies by the Doppler Effect is fundamental to astronomy. Using the same principle, the X-ray astronomical satellite SUZAKU explored the plasma motion of a galaxy cluster. SUZAKU's discoveries and follow-up satellite ASTRO-H's observations may one day reveal the real identity of the "dark components the universe".

(ISAS News: February 2012 issue)