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JAPAN'S SPACE HOPES FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY:
Series of Student Satellites to Be Launched
March 1, 2001
A series of three microsatellites designed and developed by Japanese university students is to be launched starting autumn 2001 and finishing in 2002.
The project is part of a program sponsored by the University Space Systems Symposium (USSS), in which both Japanese and American universities are taking part. The Japanese satellites are scheduled to be launched together with those of students of Stanford University and the University of California from the Baykonur space launch facility in Kazakhstan. A Russian DNEPR rocket, which can carry a total of 18 microsatellites, will be used to execute the launch.
The University of Tokyo's "XI-1" was designed and assembled by a dozen or so students. The satellite will be used to conduct various experiments, including testing of a single-crystal silicon solar battery attached to the outside of the satellite, and communications equipment and a lithium-ion secondary battery carried in the satellite. The Tokyo Institute of Technology's satellite will also be used for performance testing of telecommunications equipment but will carry out additional experiments, including test transmission of data to a ground station and transmission of commands to the satellite altering the data transmission protocol to be used. (The protocol defines the format in which data is transmitted.)
Observation of the Leonid Meteor Storm
A satellite design competition takes place in Japan every year. It is regarded as a gateway to success for young satellite researchers in Japan. The Leonid observation satellite is based on a concept that was entered for the competition in 1999 by four fourth-year students of the Tohoku University Department of Engineering and awarded the Idea Grand Prix. Their idea of observing at close hand how a meteor shower looks from space as it pours down onto the Earth was highly rated.
In order to observe the Leonids as they begin to glow at an altitude of 200 kilometers, the observation satellite will have to be put into an orbit about 300 kilometers above the Earth. As they can be clearly observed from the Earth, there is a possibility of discovering the origin of life in some form, perhaps organic matter brought to the Earth from a meteor. The satellite will be cubic with sides of 50 centimeters (19.6 inches) and will have several types of digital cameras on board. The images captured by the cameras will be sent to a ground station. It is scheduled to be launched together with other microsatellites on a Russian or American rocket by August 2002. This is a project that has attracted international attention--11 institutions from Britain, United States, and six other countries are considering taking part by monitoring reception of test data transmissions and so on.
A Spur for Japan's Space Development Program
Copyright (c) 2001 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.