From the groung to the atmosphere, the geospace, interplanetary space and beyond, ISAS's research fields cover the entire universe.
International Space Station
Credit ISS: ESA/NASA; HINODE: NAOJ/JAXA; Sun: NAOJ/JAXA; IRAS F11119+3257: ESA/ATG medialab; BD+30-3639: NASA/STScI/Univ. MD/J.P.Harrington; Kepler's Supernova Remnant: NASA, ESA, R. Sankrit and W. Blair (Johns Hopkins University); Moon: NAOJ; Mercury: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington; Mars: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS; Jupiter: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Scientific ballooning programs provide opportunities for scientific and technological researches such as cosmic-ray physics, inrared astronomy, high-energy astrophysics, astrobiology. The technologial investigations include experiments of new technology for transportation and exploration.
Sounding rockets carry scientific and engineering instruments into space along a parabolic trajectory. The sounding rocket programs have been contributing both engineering experiments and scientific observations. The former includes attitude control systems, re-entry technology, navigation technology and so on, while the latter astrophysical observations, researches on the upper layer of the atomosphere, space plasma physics and so on. The payload for a sounding rocket can be developed in a much shorter time frame than orbiter missions. This enables researchers to incorporate the latest, most up-to-date technology in their experiments.
Japanese launch vehicles in operation or under development are the H3 Launch Vehicle, Epsilon Rocket, H-II A Rocket. The Epsilon Rocket originates from the Pencil Rocket that is the first rocket in Japan and was developed to progress the technology of the solid fuel rockets. Thhe Epsilon Rocket aims to launch small satellites in high precision at low cost. The H-II A Rocket is the main-force launch vehicle in Japan, and can launch various types of satellites and explores in high reliability.
At the International Space Station (ISS) flying 400 kilometers above the Earth, astronauts reside and perform various scientific experiments. The Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” has a special feature of the Exposed Facility, where an experiment can be conducted outside the ISS (= an experiment instrument is exposed to the space environment), in addition to the inside facility. No other countries have such an outside facility.
Geospace is the region of outer space near the Earth. The geospace is disturbed by the solar wind and is fluctuating dynamically. Application satellites such as telecommunication and weather satellites have orbits in the geospace. Aurora and space storms are phenomena induced by interaction between the geospace and the solar wind.
Radiaions in X-ray, ultraviolet and Infrared wavelength are absorbed by the Earth's atomosphere and can only be observed from the outer space. Observations from space provide us super-sharp images. Thanks to these advantages, various astronomy satellites contribute to the progress of science.
The moon has been observed and investigated extensively. However, we have not yet how it formed and evolved. In addition to scientific interest in the moon itself, the moon is utilized for experiments to establish techniques of orbital insertion, orbital and attitude control and landing.
The definition of a word "Deep Space" is vague. The International Telecommunication Union defines it as "space at distances from the Earth equal to, or greater than 2million km". This definition excludes the moon from the deep space. Thus, deep space exploration is equivalent to interplanetary exploration. On the other hand, astronomers consider deep space as the universe beyond the solar system. For some astronomers, the deep space means the universe at a distance of more than a few billion light years.