Tag: ‘Space’

Watch the solar eclipse online

22 Jul 2009

Path of eclipse --
Later this morning in Asia, people from India to Japan to Kiribati will turn to the sky for a glimpse of the total solar eclipse.

After appearing at dawn in India's Gulf of Khambhat, the Moon's shadow will sweep across Asia and the South Pacific, covering approximately 15,200 kilometers (9,500 miles) in about 3.5 hours before disappearing near the Marshall Islands.

In parts of the Pacific, the duration of the total darkness will last up to 6 minutes and 39 seconds, making it the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century. The next one of this duration will not occur until June 13, 2132.

For those unable to view the eclipse in person, here are a few places to catch it online (times are indicated in JST, GMT, and EST):

- Live Eclipse 2009 (China/ Japan/ Kiribati): iPhone-friendly webcast, live from three separate locations. Finished.

- NHK (Akusekijima/ Yakushima/ Boat in Pacific/ Iwo Jima): Scheduled to broadcast from 10:30 to 11:45 AM JST (1:30-2:45 AM GMT // 9:30-10:45 PM EST) from four locations. Finished.

- RKK Kumamoto Eclipse Live (Kumamoto, Japan): Scheduled to go live at 9:30 AM JST (12:30 AM GMT // 8:30 PM EST) - Finished.

- SAROS.ORG - Live Astronomy Webcast (China) - Finished.

- Atlas Post (China): Broadcasting from 9:20 to 19:00 AM JST (12:20-2:00 AM GMT // 8:20-10:00 PM EST) - Finished.

- University of North Dakota (Wuhan, China) - Finished.

- TV news broadcast from India: Finished.

- CCTV-4 (China): Finished.

* * * * *

For a few moments, the solar eclipse peeked through the clouds over Tokyo.

Partial solar eclipse over Tokyo --
Partial solar eclipse over Tokyo (11:07 AM) [Enlarge]

Partial solar eclipse over Tokyo --
Partial solar eclipse over Tokyo (11:07 AM)

* * * * *

In case you missed it, here's some NHK footage of the eclipse over Japan's southern islands.

Video: Kaguya moon crash

22 Jun 2009

The Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released high-definition video captured by the Kaguya moon probe moments before crashing onto the lunar surface on June 11.


+ Video

The 3D movie was created based on observation data captured about 12 minutes prior to the controlled crash, as the probe headed toward its final destination near the Gill crater. The video goes black at the end as Kaguya moves into the dark area of the moon.

JAXA has also released a few still images of the view during the final approach:

Kaguya moon crash --

Kaguya moon crash --

Kaguya moon crash --

Kaguya moon crash --

[Source: JAXA]

Video: Space stunts

09 Jun 2009

Astronaut Koichi Wakata, who has been living aboard the International Space Station since mid-March, has carried out a series of offbeat space experiments proposed by the Japanese public.


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The experiments, which the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has dubbed "Try Zero-G," consist mainly of physical exercises and gymnastics (including calisthenics, push-ups, flips, twirls, cartwheels, overhead soccer kicks, and swimming). In addition, Wakata folds clothes, rides a “magic carpet,” squirts water from a syringe, puts eyedrops in his eye, and attempts to propel himself through the room by flapping a fan. He also enlists the help of a fellow astronaut for some arm wrestling, hand-shaking, slap sumo, and tug of war.

[Soundtrack: "Seashell" by Skylab (from the "Skylab#1" CD)]

Low-altitude video of lunar surface (in HD)

05 Jun 2009

In its final days before crashing into the surface of the moon on June 11, Japan's KAGUYA explorer has been shooting high-definition footage of the lunar terrain from low altitude.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which operates the HD camera-equipped probe along with public broadcaster NHK, has uploaded two videos on YouTube.

The first video (embedded above) was shot from an altitude of about 11 kilometers (7 miles) up, at between 45 and 52 degrees south latitude and 262 and 263 degrees east longitude.

The second video, which offers a view of the Antoniadi lunar crater, was shot from an altitude of about 21 kilometers (13 miles) up, at between 64 and 70 degrees south latitude and 186 and 188 degrees east longitude.

After its launch in late 2007, KAGUYA started in orbit about 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the moon. In February 2009 the probe dropped to an altitude of 50 kilometers (31 miles), and in April it dropped to between 10 and 30 kilometers (6 - 19 miles).

The KAGUYA probe will end its scientific exploration of the moon with a controlled impact on the lunar surface. The crash, scheduled for 3:30 AM (Japan standard time) on June 11, 2009 (6:30 PM GMT on June 10, 2009), will occur in the shadow on the near side of the moon, at 63 degrees south latitude and 80 degrees east longitude.

Map showing location of KAGUYA's impact --
The red star shows where KAGUYA is expected to crash

JAXA has not announced whether the probe will film its own demise.

[Link: JAXA // YouTube]

16 offbeat space experiments for the people

20 Mar 2009

International Space Station --

On March 18, astronaut Koichi Wakata arrived at the International Space Station to begin his three-month space sojourn -- the longest ever for a Japanese spaceman. Although much of Wakata's time in space will be devoted to official research and maintenance duties, he plans to set aside a little free time for 16 offbeat experiments proposed by the Japanese public.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) selected the extra experiments from nearly 1,600 proposals they received after asking the public what tests they would like to see performed in space. The 16 experiments are listed here as questions posed to Wakata.

1. Calisthenics: Is it possible to follow an audio-guided workout program in zero gravity?

2. Backflips: On Earth, backflips take a lot of practice and leg strength. How about in zero gravity?

3. Volleying (soccer): Crumple a piece of paper into a ball and try kicking it around. How does the ball behave in zero gravity? Can you volley it?

4. Push-ups: In space, can you do push-ups while facing the ceiling or walls?

5. Cartwheels: In zero gravity, can you rotate yourself continuously like a windmill?

6. Swimming: Try to swim through the air as if you were in water. Can you move forward by swimming? If not, why not?

7. Spin like an ice skater: On Earth, ice skaters can increase their rotation speed by pulling their arms closer in to the body while they spin. Does the same thing happen in zero gravity? If so, what is the reason?

8. Folding clothes: In space, can you fold clothes and put them away as you do on Earth? It seems that the shirt sleeves would be difficult to keep in place. What is the best way to fold clothes in space?

9. Magic carpet: Try to sit on a floating carpet. Magic carpets are a fantasy on Earth, but are they possible in space?

10. Water gun: On Earth, if you squeeze a drink bag, a single stream of liquid shoots out through the straw hole and falls to the ground. How does the liquid behave in zero gravity?

11. Eye drops: On Earth, you have to face upward to put eye drops into your eyes. Is there a better way to do this in zero gravity?

12. Propulsion through space: When floating in zero gravity, how much power do you need in order to propel yourself around? Can you move simply by blowing air from your mouth or by flapping a hand-fan?

The next four activities are to be performed by two people:

13. Arm wrestling
14. Shaking hands
15. Sumo
16. Tug-of-war

JAXA plans to release videos of Wakata's experiments in July.

[Source: JAXA]

Space bling: Video of eclipse from the moon

19 Feb 2009

Diamond ring effect during eclipse on moon --

On February 10, Japan's KAGUYA (a.k.a. SELENE) lunar explorer shot video of the Earth as it passed between the Sun and the Moon. The probe's high-definition cameras captured a rare view of the so-called "diamond ring effect" seen from the Moon. The phenomenon is usually only ever observed during total solar eclipses on Earth, just as the Sun emerges from behind the Moon.


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This video shows the Sun emerging from behind the Earth, just as they are rising over the lunar horizon. The bead of sunlight peeking over the edge of the planet looks like a diamond on a precious ring.

[Link: JAXA]

Next-generation space toilet ready in five years

05 Jan 2009

Space toilet --

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has teamed up with engineers from the private sector to develop a next-generation space toilet, which they hope to complete within the next five years.

Clean and easy to use, the envisioned space toilet is designed to be worn like a diaper around the astronaut's waist at all times. Sensors detect when the user relieves him or herself, automatically activating a rear-mounted suction unit that draws the waste away from the body through tubes into a separate container. In addition to washing and drying the wearer after each use, the next-generation space toilet will incorporate features that eliminate unwanted sound and odor.

Established last month, JAXA's space toilet research group includes engineers from the private sector. Participants reportedly come from an assortment of toilet and chemical manufacturers, as well as from the architectural and engineering firm Shimizu Corporation. Plans are to test working prototypes of the space toilet in Japan's Kibo lab aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The developers indicate their next-generation space toilet may also prove useful in earthbound settings -- particularly in hospitals with bedridden patients.

The current ISS toilet is a Russian-built, western-style commode that sucks waste away like a vacuum cleaner. Use of that toilet requires practice before heading to space, particularly because an improperly seated user has the potential to create a messy situation.

Chiaki Mukai, head of JAXA's Space Biomedical Research Office, is looking forward to the development of the new toilet. "Long-term stays in space place significant stress on the mind and body," Mukai says. "The toilet plays a crucial role in maintaining good health in space."

[Source: Yomiuri]

Photos of JAXA’s origami space shuttles

08 Oct 2008

Oriplane, paper shuttle --

Japanese precision machinery manufacturer Castem has sent nine origami space shuttles to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) office in Houston, it was announced on October 7. If all goes as planned, the paper planes will conduct experimental flights from the space station to Earth early next year.

Oriplane, paper space plane --

The 29-gram (1 oz) origami shuttles, which measure 38 centimeters (14 in) long and 22 centimeter (9 in) wide, are made from lightweight but durable sugar cane fiber paper that has been chemically treated to resist heat and water. Developed by JAXA and the University of Tokyo, the special paper has already been used to construct a miniature prototype shuttle, which was tested in a hypersonic wind tunnel in January. In that test, the prototype survived wind speeds of Mach 7 (8,600 kph/ 5,300 mph) and temperatures of around 200 degrees Celsius (nearly 400 degrees Fahrenheit).

Oriplane, paper spacecraft --

If NASA approves, the Space Shuttle Discovery will carry the origami planes to the International Space Station (ISS) in February 2009. JAXA astronaut Dr. Koichi Wakata, who will be living aboard ISS when the origami planes arrive, will carry out the experiment from the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module. It is yet to be decided whether Wakata himself will throw the paper planes or whether he will use the space station's robotic arm.

In either case, JAXA estimates it will take two days for the origami shuttles to complete the 400-kilometer (250 mi) journey from ISS to the planet surface.

Oriplane, origami space shuttle --

A message printed beneath the wings identifies the plane, explains that it has completed a return journey from the space station, and requests the finder to contact JAXA. The message is printed in 10 different languages, including Japanese, English, Chinese, Hindi, and Arabic.

Japan Origami Airplane Association chairman Takuo Toda, a strong proponent of the experiment, says he hopes the test flights will help engineers develop new types of lightweight spacecraft in the future.

[Source: Asahi // Photos: Oriplane]

Space wedding

19 Jun 2008

Space wedding --

Space transportation provider Rocketplane Kistler Japan has teamed up with wedding planner First Advantage to begin hosting weddings aboard the Rocketplane XP suborbital spaceplane. A cool 240 million yen ($2.2 million) buys you a wedding ceremony aboard a 1-hour space flight that reaches an altitude of more than 100 kilometers (62.1 miles), as well as a photo and video album, original dress, wedding certificate and other ceremonial items. The otherworldly price tag also includes the cost of transportation to and from the launch site, accommodations, a live broadcast of the ceremony to friends and family at a reception hall on the ground, and 4 days of rehearsal. The space wedding services are scheduled to begin in 2011, but the group will start accepting applications early next month.

[Link: Space Wedding]