Tag Archives: Japan

Japans Troubled X-Ray Satellite Is Dead

The Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, has announced that it is not possible to recover its ASTRO-H X-ray astronomy satellite, Hitomi. The sad news follows several weeks of uncertainty after the satellite was found to be out of control in orbit.

In a statement, JAXA said they would now try to find out what went wrong with the satellite, rather than attempting to restore communications. We will carefully review all phases from design, manufacturing, verification, and operations to identify the causes that may have led to this anomaly including background factors, they said.

Launched on February 17, 2016, Hitomi was set to be a groundbreaking mission that would use four X-ray telescopes and two gamma-ray telescopes to probe black holesand the distant universe. Costing an estimated $286 million, the project was a joint collaboration between JAXA, NASA, and other partners.

But on March 26, things started to go wrong. While being pointed towards the center of a distant galaxy, the spacecraft began to spin wildly out of control. Observations from the ground suggested bits of the satellite may have broken off. Preliminary investigations indicate that the planned rotationcaused its solar panels to snap, with some reports saying human errorcaused the breakage, possibly due to an errant command being sent to the spacecraft.

The team thought the mission might be salvageable, because they were receiving what they thought were signals from Hitomi. But in their statement, JAXA said these were likely from a different source, and the satellite has long been dead.

Takashi Kubota (right), space program director of JAXA, at a press conference in Tokyo yesterday announcing the end of the Hitomi mission. STR/AFP/Getty Images

JAXA expresses the deepest regret for the fact that we had to discontinue the operations of ASTRO-H and extends our most sincere apologies to everyone who has supported ASTRO-H believing in the excellent results ASTRO-H would bring, the agency announced solemnly.

This failed mission goes to show that space travel, no matter how successful we continue to be, is hard. Hitomi joins a host of failed spacecraft that have been launched over the last few decades. Some, like Japans Akatsuki Venus mission or NASAs Kepler spacecraft, have been recovered thanks to a bit of luck and/or ingenuity. Others, like Hitomi or Phobos-Grunt, are lost for good.

It will be 12 years until a similar satellite,ATHENA, is launched in 2028 by the European Space Agency (ESA). For Japan, and scientistsaround the world, it will be a long time to mourn this major loss to astronomy.

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Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/japan-s-troubled-x-ray-satellite-dead

Tiny Satellite Will Grow Mold in Orbit

Dictyostelium-discoideum

University students in Japan are building a slime mold-housing micro-satellite that will orbit the Earth and send back photos of the microorganisms’ growth. The small satellite will transmit the pictures to Earth using amateur radio.

The Microbial Observation Satellite, TeikyoSat-3, is a project of Teikyo University and is a small satellite project of the Space System Society at the university’s Utsunomiya campus.

TeikyoSat-3 weighs 44 pounds (20 kilograms) and is designed to study the impact of space radiation and the microgravity environment on a mold called Dictyostelium discoideum. This species of soil-living amoeba belongs to the phylum Mycetozoa and is often given the less-than-highbrow biological label of “slime mold.”

TeikyoSat-3 is slated for launch on Japan’s H-IIA booster in Japanese Fiscal Year 2013, and will ride along with the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) main satellite, officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) public affairs department told SPACE.com.

JAXA and NASA collaborated on the development of the GPM spacecraft as part of an international network of satellites that provide next-generation global observations of rain and snow.

Amateur Satellites and Biology

TeikyoSat-3 is one of several small satellites set to piggyback on a launch scheduled for January 2014, said Hirotoshi Kubota, professor of a special mission, faculty of science and engineering at Teikyo University. “This satellite is now in the process of testing of [the] engineering model,” he told SPACE.com via email.

The TeikyoSat-3 group proposal stated, “Our micro satellite, TeikyoSat-3, takes a picture of the growth process of the slime mold, Dictyostelium discoideum, in space, and then downlinks the pictures to the ground station. We’ll release the pictures on our website to the public and radio amateurs. We expect the public and radio amateurs to promote their interest of the amateur satellites and biology.”

A ground station at the Teikyo University Utsunomiya campus will keep in contact with TeikyoSat-3. The plan is to actively make details about the tiny satellite available to the public in order to enable radio amateurs to receive images of slime mold directly from the spacecraft.

In building TeikyoSat-3, the university students are plotting out a low-cost “pharmacological mission,” one that makes use of microscope and miniature-camera technology. The students will also have to control the temperature on board the satellite to ensure an environment within which the slime mold can live.

Life of its Own

The value of studying microbial creatures in space has taken on a life of its own over the years.

During its 15 years of space travel, which ended when it deorbited in March 2001, Russia’s Mir space station was found to house colonies of organisms. They were found alive and well — growing on rubber gaskets around windows, space suit hardware and cable insulation and tubing.

Officials from NASA’s Human Research Program plan to gather and analyze biological samples to better investigate the International Space Station’s “microbiome” — the ever-changing microbial environment that can be found on the Earth-orbiting facility and its crew members.

Carrying out this work within the hectic environment of space is expected to give researchers data about whether alterations in the crew’s microbiome are harmful to human health.

Bio-Burden

China isn’t exempt from the bio-burden of protecting human space travelers, either.

Researchers have eyed the “Heavenly Palace” that is China’s Tiangong-1 space module as a microbial haven, too.

Despite an air purifier that cleans the module’s air and the astronauts’ practice of wiping away dust with wet tissues before leaving, there could be unknown risks, said Wang Xiang, chief commander of the space lab system. Microbes can pose a hazard to astronaut health, he told China Daily.

Wang said that mold was not only found on surfaces aboard Russia’s Mir Space Station; it has also been seen on the International Space Station. He spotlighted one “moldie oldie” report stating that fungus grew in cosmonauts’ ears during a mission on the former Soviet Union’s Salyut space station.

Mold also presents a threat to space module components, Wang said. “It is a subject we will keep studying until China builds its own space station,” he said.

Image: Freie Universität Berlin

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/07/19/space-mold/

Astronomers Think They’ve Found The Second-Largest Black Hole In The Milky Way

There are thought to be three types of black holes out there, each a different sized, star-swallowing, spacetime-warping colossus. A new study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters claims to have discovered a fourth intermediary type hiding within our very own galaxy.

The first type of black holes, stellar black holes (SBHs), appearwhen extremely massive stars, having reached the end of their lives, are no longer able to perform nuclear fusion. The inwardly directed gravitational force of the star overcomes the externally directed generation of heat, and a catastrophic implosion occurs. The resulting SBH typically has a massof around ten Suns (solar masses).

The second type, primordial black holes, are purely hypothetical at this stage. Formed by the compaction of matter present during the universes early expansion, they could be as small as a single atom, but with the mass of a large mountain.

Supermassive black holes (SMBHs) are typically found at the hearts of galaxies, and are easily the most gargantuan. Our Milky Way’sSagittarius A*, for example,is four million times more massive than the Sun. Their formation mechanism is still open to debate: Some scientists think that they grow by absorbing smaller black holes over time, whereas others believe they form from the collapse of enormous gas clouds early on during the galaxy formation.

The problem with this three-tiered categorization is that there isnt much room for intermediate-mass black holes or IMBHs those with masses somewhere between that of a SBH and a SMBH. In 2014, the discovery of one such black hole was claimed: A luminous object called X-1 in the constellation M82, with 400 solar masses, was spotted, and astronomers declared it an IMBH.

The SMBH, Sagittarius A*, at the core of the Milky Way, seen with respect to the new IMBH candidate, highlighted in magenta. The scale bar is in parsecs, where one parsec equals 3.26 light-years. Oka et al./The Astrophysical Journal Letters

Its mass was calculated by looking at the X-ray emissions jettisoning from it. Astronomers noticed that these emissions seem to beat like a drum, appearing at set 3-2 ratios for example, 300 times per second and then 200 times per second. The frequency of these beats are inversely proportional to the mass of the black hole, so an emission rhythm of 150 times per second then 100 times per second would be coming from a more massive black hole than one with a 300-200 beat. X-1 had a rhythm of roughly 5-3.3 X-ray emissions per second, meaning that it had a mass of 428 Suns, making it an IMBH.

This more recent study wasnt actually looking for IMBHs, but was instead peering at an enigmatic gas cloud called CO-0.40-0.22. Using Japans Nobeyama and Chiles ASTE radio telescopes, the researchers noticed that the gas molecules in the cloud were all moving at a wide range of speeds, meaning something was accelerating them. X-ray observations, like those used to look at X-1, revealed nothing.

However, a simulation of the gas movement in the cloud suggested only one culprit: namely, an IMBH of around 100,000 solar masses is hiding in the cloud, using its powerful gravitational field to fling particles chaotically through space. If proven to be true by independent studies, this IMBH will be the first of its kind: it, and its gas cloud shield, are both within our own Milky Way. It will also be the second most massive black hole in our galaxy, after Sagittarius A*.

However, a controversy now exists. X-1 was detected using powerful X-ray emissions, and this new IMBH candidate was not. And since there is no reference IMBH for comparison,that these two studies therefore sharply disagree on which one, if any, is actually an IMBH.

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Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/have-astronomers-found-milky-ways-second-most-massive-black-hole

Photographer Captures The Beautiful Relationship Between Her Grandmother And a Stray Cat

17 years ago, photographer Miyoko Ihara has started to take photographs of her grandmother, Misao. Miyoko wanted to leave a living proof of her. One day, her grandmother found an odd-eyed kitten in the shed. She named the cat “Fukumaru” in hope that “God of fuku (good fortune) comes and everything will be smoothed over like maru (circle)”. Even though she is 91 years old, she still go out into the fields every day and Fukumaru always accompany her. The grandmother whose hearing become weak and Fukumaru who has hearing disabilities are always looking into each other’s eyes and feeling warmth each other.
Seeing that the strong bond and love between the two shines out of every photo, Miyoko published a hard cover portrait album, called “Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat”. Check out the pictures below and feel the rush of good emotions!

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Read more: http://cheezburger.com/3099141/photographer-captures-the-beautiful-relationship-between-her-grandmother-and-a-stray-cat

Hedgehog Petting Cafe Opens Up In Tokyo

As there are no wild hedgehogs in Japan, seeing one is quite a treat. To fill this gap in the market with some prickly cuteness, a hedgehog-themed cafe has opened in Roppongi District, Tokyo.

Since February, customers have been queuing at the “Harry” cafe to have the opportunity to pet the hedgehogs.The name “Harry”stems from awordplay onthe Japanese word for hedgehog. For 1,000 yen ($9) on weekdays and 1,300 yen ($11) on holidays, the cafe offers an hour of petting and playing with a selection of hedgehogs. Theres even a menu of different colorsto choose from.

In case hedgehogs arent your thing, the same building also has a rabbitcafe owned by the same people.

Mizuki Murata, who works at the cafe, told Reuters, We wanted to show people the charm of hedgehogs, which give the impression of being hard to handle. We wanted to get rid of that image by letting people touch them.

She added, The cutest thing about hedgehogs is getting them to finally open up and show you their face.

Although some people have doubted the suitability of petting these shy and nocturnal creatures, hedgehogs can be comfortably kept as pets. In Japan, these prickly beasts areparticularly popular astiny companions. That said, if you see a hedgehog out and about in the wild its always best to leave them be. However,if youcome across onein your garden,its advised you feed them meaty cat or dog food and water notbread and milk.

A photo posted by eko tjoek (@ekotjoek) on Apr 7, 2016 at 4:32pm PDT

What do you call a huddle of hedgehogs? #hedgehogcafe #hedgehog #tokyo #japan #kawaii #lostgirlintokyo

A photo posted by Dan the Girl (@lostgirlintokyo) on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:51pm PST

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/hedgehog-petting-cafe-opens-tokyo

Japan Wants Space Plane or Capsule by 2022

Japan-wants-space-plane-or-capsule-by-2022-52f3c572f0

Japan hopes to launch astronauts aboard a manned capsule or space plane by 2022, and the nation is also eyeing point-to-point suborbital transportation over the longer haul.

The capsule or mini-shuttle — which may resemble Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser space plane — would each accommodate a crew of three and carry up to 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of cargo, officials with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said this month.

The mini-shuttle would weigh 26,400 pounds (11,975 kg) and land at one of five suitable runways worldwide. Because a launch abort from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center would mean a Pacific Ocean landing, the space plane would also have to be able to cope with the sea.

JAXA is considering two different versions of the capsule, which would have a similar internal volume to SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The 15,400-pound (6,985 kg) variant employs parachutes, while the 19,800-pound (8,981 kg) model uses a more maneuverable parafoil for greater landing accuracy to within a 1.9-mile (3 kilometers) radius.

The heavier capsule would be able to land on solid ground, while the lighter model would only touch down at sea. JAXA also foresees further development of the capsule for exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, officials said. JAXA officials presented the human spaceflight concepts at the at the International Astronautical Federation’s meeting in Naples, Italy, earlier this month.

The capsule or mini-shuttle — which may resemble Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser space plane — would each accommodate a crew of three and carry up to 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of cargo, officials with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said this month.

The mini-shuttle would weigh 26,400 pounds (11,975 kg) and land at one of five suitable runways worldwide. Because a launch abort from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center would mean a Pacific Ocean landing, the space plane would also have to be able to cope with the sea.

JAXA is considering two different versions of the capsule, which would have a similar internal volume to SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The 15,400-pound (6,985 kg) variant employs parachutes, while the 19,800-pound (8,981 kg) model uses a more maneuverable parafoil for greater landing accuracy to within a 1.9-mile (3 kilometers) radius. [How SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule Works (Infographic)]

The heavier capsule would be able to land on solid ground, while the lighter model would only touch down at sea. JAXA also foresees further development of the capsule for exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, officials said. JAXA officials presented the human spaceflight concepts at the at the International Astronautical Federation’s meeting in Naples, Italy, earlier this month.

Building new capsules

Development of the crewed capsule will follow an unmanned reusable cargo capsule, called the HTV-R (R for “recovery”), which JAXA is planning as an evolution of its expendable H-IIB Transfer Vehicle (HTV). The HTV has delivered cargo to the International Space Station three times, with the most recent trip coming in July.

The current HTV spacecraft’s pressurized cargo section would be replaced by the recoverable capsule, which is made of an aluminium alloy. Development of the HTV-R begins next year, and the first flight is targeted for 2017, JAXA officials said.

“For HTV-R we are asking for funding for this coming year, and we are expecting next year to start development phase for HTV-R, and for the crewed capsule we are conducting some key technology research,” Kuniaki Shiraki, JAXA’s executive director of human space systems and utilization mission directorate, told SPACE.com. “This year on these [manned] technologies we are spending $600,000.”

Shiraki was among those who spoke at the 63rd annual International Astronautical Congress.

The recoverable capsule will use some of the same technologies as the current HTV, including its systems for rendezvous and docking, power, communications, and guidance, navigation and control. But the HTV-R will require development of some new gear, such as thermal protection, accurate re-entry guidance and parachute systems.

Both the HTV-R and the manned capsule would have an internal volume of 529 cubic feet (15 cubic meters), JAXA officials say. The cargo capsule would be 13.8 feet (4.2 m) wide and 10.8 feet (3.3 m) tall, with a dry mass of 9,680 pounds (4,390 kg), and it would re-enter the atmosphere ballistically.

The recoverable cargo capsule’s propulsion systems will use green propellant, and its heat shield will be made of a low density, lightweight material. The capsule would not be fully reusable; its interior would be refurbished and the thermal protection panels on the exterior would be replaced, assuming a sea landing.

A New Rocket

While the HTV, and eventually the HTV-R, are launched on the H-IIB rocket, all three of the proposed manned vehicles — the two capsule variants and the mini-shuttle — would be launched by a newly proposed rocket called the H-X.

The H-X will be a new design with higher reliability for human-rated launches, and it’s slated to become operational in the 2020s. Its prime contractor is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

Concept studies and research for key technologies have been carried out to decide the H-X baseline configuration and to assess its feasibility. As a result, a fully liquid propellant vehicle with a single two-stage core that uses a solid or liquid booster stage for heavy and geostationary orbit payloads is MHI’s baseline design.

The H-X’s engines will cluster together a higher-thrust evolution of JAXA’s LE-7A engines called the LE-X, which is now in the research phase to verify its feasibility, safety, reliability and cost-effectiveness, officials say.

Suborbital Point-to-Point

Japan’s spaceflight plans don’t stop with the HTV-R evolutions and hopes for a mini-shuttle. JAXA also has a long-term reusable space plane feasibility study underway that includes a road map.

This road map envisions a rocket-powered suborbital point-to-point (PtoP) vehicle with a 1,242-mile (2,000 km) range, as well as another PtoP vehicle with a 6,213-mile (10,000 km) range and a fully reusable two-stage-to-orbit manned space plane.

The shorter-range PtoP vehicle is a rocket glider weighing 118,800 pounds (53,520 kg). It coasts toward its destinations after achieving a speed more than 14 times the speed of sound using staged combustion aerospace engines.

The longer-range PtoP craft has a waverider design and a total weight of 660,000 pounds (299,370 kg). It would also glide to its target after accelerating to hypersonic speeds — in this case, about five times the speed of sound — but it would be capable of longer hypersonic cruises. This hypersonic aircraft’s design has a forebody that compresses the incoming air for the propulsion system, which combines a rocket with a ramjet.

Plans for the reusable two-stage-to-orbit manned space plane currently call for a vertical launch, though a horizontal takeoff may also be considered. In either case, both its booster stage and the 60-foot-long (18 m) orbiter it carries would land on a runway.

The vehicle exists only on paper at the moment. Howerver, JAXA is working toward ground-based engine tests and plans flight tests in five years or so.

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/25/japan-space-plane-2022/

Fashion Cats – Book Of Cats Wearing Hats

This simple short is a perfect example of how to make a viral video. Just dress cats in adorable hats, and there you go. It’s a short promotion for the book, Fashion Cats, by Japanese feline fashion designer Takako Iwasa. The video is feature on BlameItOnTheVoices

 

Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2011/08/10/fashion-cats-book-of-cats-wearing-hats/