[meteorite-list] Young Japanese Reseachers Prepare to Launch Satellites to Observe Leonids
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:42:06 2004
Young researchers prepare to launch cubic satellites
By Satoshi Yamada
The Daily Yomiuri
January 30, 2001
Three small satellites, each designed and developed by Japanese university
students, will be launched into space over a one-year period beginning in
The satellites are part of a project set up by Tohoku University in Miyagi
Prefecture, Tokyo University and Tokyo Institute of Technology to nurture
younger researchers through practical experiments -- in this case by
observing the Leonid meteor shower.
In light of the launch failures that have marred Japan's space program in
the past, the satellites will be placed in orbit aboard rockets launched by
foreign countries. The universities are raising technical and financial
support for the launches from relevant companies in order to help enhance
interests among Japan's young researchers.
One of the student research teams, led by Tohoku University and the
Institute of Space and Astronomical Science and monitored by the Education,
Science and Technology Ministry plans to launch a satellite to monitor the
next major Leonid meteor shower, which will occur over North America in
November 2002. The satellite was designed in 1999 by a team of university
students led by Hiroshi Hamano, who at the time was a senior and is now
pursuing a graduate degree. The team's design received the Idea Award at the
1999 Satellite Design Contest, which is considered a major career boost for
young researchers eyeing careers in the satellite industry.
Hajime Yano, an assistant researcher at the the Institute of Space and
Astronautical Science who is involved in the project, praised the team's
design. "The idea to directly observe the impact of meteor showers on the
Earth is unique," he said. Yano is a veteran of a U.S. National Aeronautics
and Space Administration project to observe meteor showers from an airplane.
The Leonids are seen at an altitude of about 200 kilometers, higher than
most meteor streams, and are thus monitored more clearly from satellites on
the orbit 300 kilometers above the Earth than from the ground.
According to Yano, detailed photographs of the Leonids will enable
researchers to observe meteorites more easily before they hit the Earth's
The team has come up with a 50-centimeter-long cubic satellite that weighs
about 50 kilograms and is equipped with several types of digital cameras
that can capture a variety of light rays. The satellite will be
"piggy-backed" into space on a U.S. or Russian rocket before August 2002.
The project created by the university students has attracted attention
internationally, and the research team is considering the participation of
11 organizations in eight countries such as the United States and Britain in
the project by receiving data. "When I first heard that our satellite will
be really launched, I became afraid that we could not complete it," Hamano
Tohoku University's Assistant Prof. Kazuya Yoshida said, "The project as an
experience-oriented education in space engineering is a golden opportunity
for students. We want to invite participation in the project without the
framework of universities."
Received on Tue 30 Jan 2001 02:10:26 PM PST