Posts Tagged ‘jaxa’

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Robots Hit the Beach for Lunar Exploration Training

March 27, 2012

The seaside Nakatajima Sand Dunes in Central Japan hosted several would-be lunar explorer robots and their support teams on March 13 for a public demonstration and training run in a simulated lunar environment.

Aichi University of Technology's LUBOT at Nakatajima

Seven teams from universities around Japan arrived here with their robots after being invited by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) to come and show off their work. As a follow-up to their Kaguya probe, which took HD images of much of the moon’s surface from 2007 to 2009, JAXA has proposed sending a rover by 2025 to continue Kaguya’s work by exploring the moon’s surface directly, and has been collaborating with universities in creating new rover designs.

The Nakatajima Dunes, just a short bus ride from Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture, were selected for their wide expanses of soft, fine sand dotted with large rocks and the treacherously steep inclines that come close to the kinds of terrain the rovers will encounter if they make it to the moon. The high winds and sea spray they experienced on the beach, however, are unlikely to be a factor.

Notable designs include the Track-Walker 2 from  Tohoku University in Sendai, which used multiple caterpillar treads to navigate the uneven terrain by lifting itself over obstacles too big to crawl over.

Tohoku University's Track-Walker 2

Aichi University of Technology brought LUBOT, an eight-wheeled design that features a movable arm for mounting video cameras and a working scoop for gathering samples.  The video below was taken by the students themselves during a test run at Nakatajima last July.

Another design that garnered a fair amount of interest was the Tri-Star IV 3-wheeled rover from Tokyo Institute of Technology. The wheels use a combination of flexible supports and metal claws to navigate uneven and unstable terrain, and appears capable of righting itself if it turns over. According to Professor Shigeo Hirose, it can navigate slopes as steep as 30 degrees, and has mobility at least equal to what the US and Russia have built so far.

 

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HD Earthrise Set to Yuko Tsuchiya’s “Furusato”

September 12, 2011

I came across this video on JAXA’s YouTube channel. HD footage of Earthrise taken by the Kaguya lunar orbiter, set to Yuko Tsuchiya’s “Furusato” (Hometown). They go together beautifully, in my opinion. I recommend watching it at full screen.

The actual name of the orbiter was SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer), but it was given the nickname Kaguya after the Moon Princess of Japanese legend. The craft reached the moon in late 2007, where it orbited for just over a year and a half, gathering some incredible HD footage of the moon’s surface from an altitude of 100km. In June 2009, the mission completed, the craft was guided down to a controlled impact with the lunar surface.

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Satoshi Furukawa Heads for the ISS aboard Soyuz

June 8, 2011

JAXA, Japan’s space agency announced this morning that the launch of the Soyuz spacecraft (27S/TMA-02M) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was a success. Furukawa is part of a three-member crew, joining American Michael Fossum from NASA, and Russian Sergey Volkov from the FSA. This is Furukawa’s first mission, Volkov’s second, and Fossum’s third.

The craft will dock with the ISS, where the three will be joining long-term expedition 28 with Russians Andrei Borisenko, Aleksandr Samokutyayev and American Ron Garan. They will then start expedition 29, which will last until December, giving them over five months in space.

Mission patch for TMA02M