Awesome that they could fix it from this distance. These are the things that make me proud to be human :)
It took five years of painstaking work but the Japanese space agency has got its Akatsuki probe back on track. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has confirmed that a careful combination of telematics, testing, and tentative orbital corrections have put the atmospheric probe into orbit around Venus, albeit half-a- …
Whether you call it a fix or a workaround, the ability of some people to figure out what they can do with what they are given is amazing.
How many projects are prematurely and unnecessarily declared failures because the manual, the specs, the documentation, declares that they have failed?
Because some weasels declare victory where there's none should neither void nor detract from damned hard earned success. These people managed to take an Awww shit and turn in an Atta-boy. Been there, done that too many times, and no, I didn't even get a T-shirt.
To that team: Damn fine work! I'd buy but I remember how much Kirins, Sapporos, and Asahis cost. Still, enjoy.
"Are space probes usually made with components that can be jettisoned, or was that the plan once the probe was orbiting Venus? "
Akatsuki used hydrazine (fuel) and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO, the oxidizer) for its 500-Newton main engine, and just hydrazine for its twelve attitude thrusters. NTO has a liquid range of -11C to 22C at 1 bar pressure, and is always stored as a liquid in spacecraft. (Its storage liquid nature is one reason for its popularity, the other being that NTO is hypergolic with hydrazine. )
Therefore, venting NTO is a matter of opening a valve and allowing the tank pressure to squirt it into space.
In Akatsuki's case, it was not deliberately planned to dump the oxidizer. Rather, when the main engine broke, nothing else on the spacecraft required the NTO. The little RCS motors didn't need it, the power systems didn't need, it was just dead mass that the little RCS motors would have to push around. So, a valve was opened and the oxidizer spewed into space.
Hydrazine is used in a wide range of industrial chemistry and does horrible things to living tissues, but that's all in non-hypergolic reactions.
It's usually oxidizers, not fuels, that are broadly reactive. Liquid oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, and the ever-popular chlorine trifluoride react energetically with many substances.
Dear alien overlord (not mine, so I fear you not)
If you have successfully designed a spacecraft and got it to orbit around another planet, you can comment on the design. Except that you would probably not, because you know how hard it is, and how much luck is needed. For all you know, the component failed due to micro-meteorite impact.
And yes, I did notice the smiley, but I am afraid the joke fell a bit flat, but it is always difficult, attempting humor in an alien language ;-)
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...that none of the lead Japanese admins and techs on this project didn't commit "seppuku" at the time of the initial failure...as they really would have been up a creek without a paddle.
Good for them that their perseverance paid off. Hope they can get some data from it - they've waited long enough !!
Really? A relative who has worked on manned spaceflight admitted to me a few years back that he had found his old MSc thesis, and wasn't able to understand it.
Rocket science has moved on a bit since Isaac Newton. A quick look just at the three body problem will show you some interesting integrals.
This may be a bit long, but I had a tiny part in it's subsequent success.
Nearly 20 years ago I worked for a company that was part of a consortium to produce the Artemis satellite. One of the innovations was an ion propulsion engine that used xenon to keep the orbiter at the correct inclination.
This engine was quite small, not much more than a meter in length and had a series of small diameter tubes around 12mm in diameter, made from small sections of stainless steel (SS) pipe welded together, in order to transport the xenon from the tank to the engine. These pipes were welded using an automated autogenous welding machine.
The manufacture of the satellite had suffered numerous set backs and it was touch and go as to whether it would be completed due to budget over-runs and delay. The propulsion lab encountered a number of problems associated with the welding quite far into the production of the unit and the materials lab (on site) were asked to investigate.
Subsequent analysis from supplied welded coupon samples showed that some of the pipes were made from the wrong SS alloy (not connected with the welding problems). In order for SS to be welded and remain corrosion resistant then you have to use an alloy that contains titanium (or niobium), which preferentially forms titanium carbide rather than chromium carbide when welded, because you want the chromium to remain in solution which is what provides the corrosion resistance. If chromium carbide precipitates then the percentage of chromium in solution drops thus reducing the corrosion resistance and potentially lead to cracking. This is known as "weld decay".
For some reason 316 stainless pipe had been supplied rather 316L (niobium or titanium stabilised). When the project manager for the ion propulsion engine came into the lab and was informed of the error, he went green and had to be sat down with a nice cup of tea! It looked like this screw up would put the kibosh on the whole project. Millions wasted.
We had to find out the extent of the problem, so a tiny scraping of each pipe section that had already been welded and manufactured was taken (dozens of them) and then examined in the scanning electron microscope (SEM) to identify if the section was 316 OR 316L. It took 2 weeks and the diagnosis was not good. There was a mix-match of the two alloys across every transport tube.
In the mean time we asked the propulsion lab to produce enough welded sections from the two alloys so we could perform a complete re-qualification process in order to provide all the data for the engineers to say whether the ion propulsion engine was fit to be stored and then fly. The previous qualification process had taken 6 months. We did the new one in 4 weeks!
Some of us were sleeping at work (I bagged the labs photographic dark room!) and we would order in a takeaway each night followed by "a full english" in the morning from the canteen! (all on expenses of course)
Subsequently the ion propulsion engine was qualified to fly.
When the satellite was launched a failure of the launcher meant that the satellite was put into the wrong orbit. The only way to finally get the thing into the right orbit was to use the ion propulsion engine. It worked! The engine was so good that it was operating greater than the designed efficiency so was able to not only 'boost' it to the correct orbit but also provide a good lifespan.
It was a simple mislabelling of the bar stock at one supplier that led to the whole fracas.
Dust that Japan's Hayabusa2 probe returned to Earth from asteroid Ryugu reportedly contain 20 amino acids, according to Japanese media.
Which is very exciting indeed, because amino acids are the stuff of life. They help to build proteins, act as neurotransmitters in the brain, and are utterly ubiquitous and essential in terrestrial life. Just last month, esteemed journal Nature published research suggesting that amino acids had a crucial role in the evolution of the first self-replicating molecules.
Outlets such as Nikkei report that a Science ministry spokesperson mentioned the presence of amino acids yesterday, with a hint of peer-reviewed work to come but no other detail.
Sony Computer Science Laboratories (CSL) and the Japanese space agency have conducted an experiment to transmit data from the stratosphere to space and declared the results promising as a complete file was delivered at 446 megabits per second.
Data networking is hard in space, because distances and latency are substantial and radiation can impact transmissions. Those challenges have led to efforts like the Interplanetary networking SIG and its delay-tolerant networking (DTN) tech that makes internet standards work despite the challenges of space.
DTN also addresses the problem of network nodes disappearing over the horizon – and therefore beyond the reach of radio or optical signals – by (as its name implies) not getting grumpy if packets take a while to reach their intended destinations.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched an astronaut recruitment drive last week with reduced academic requirements as it seeks to diversify and refresh the nation's corps of space travelers.
JAXA last recruited astronauts in 2008. Back then, applicants required a four-year university degree in science or engineering — 963 people signed up hoping to make it to space.
The new batch of 'nauts will need only a high school diploma, plus proficiency in English and general science knowledge.
Researchers have published the first analyses of samples plucked from asteroid 162173 Ryugu by Japan's spacecraft Hayabusa2, revealing, for the first time, the physical properties and composition of a carbonaceous asteroid.
The 5.4g of asteroid sample collected from two surface locations on asteroid Ryugu landed in the South Australian outback a year ago before being shipped to Japan for investigation.
Some of the space pebbles went to NASA, but the bulk remained with Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA and its scientists.
The European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) joint mission BepiColombo sent back its first photos of Mercury on Friday as it completed the fourth of nine planetary flybys enroute to study the solar system's smallest and innermost planet.
The spacecraft passed a mere 199km from Mercury's surface as it received a gravity assist. Once it reached a feasible distance away for photos (1,000km), it snapped and transmitted back to Earth 1,024 x 1,024 black and white images of the cratered celestial body photobombed by the transfer module's antennas and magnetometer boom.
The pièce de résistance tweeted by the mission took place at an altitude of 2,418km at 23:44 UTC. It depicts the planet's northern hemisphere, including previously lava-flooded plain Sihtu Planitia and the Rudaki Plains that surround the Calvino crater. Viewers can also see the illuminated 166km-wide Lermontov crater, a geographical feature full of what ESA calls "hollows" where volatile elements escape to space making the area on the image appear bright.
Japanese auto-maker Honda has set its sights on developing its own rockets and running a satellite launch business.
Ambitions for this venture are not grand. The company aspires to launch "small low-Earth orbit satellites" and hopes its efforts allow "at least some of the rocket components to land back on Earth after the launching".
While that's a fair way behind rival private launch companies, Honda thinks it can get there fast because it has experience building engines and controlling combustion, has self-driving car tech to help a rocket understand its surrounds, and nous when it comes to handling fluids and fuels.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has teamed with Boeing on a joint research project to make quieter mid-sized passenger planes – by figuring out how to cut the noise generated by their airframes.
Aircraft noise is an issue around the world, and the aviation industry is keenly aware that its social licence depends on operating as quietly as possible – especially at urban airports that travellers prefer because they're closer to big city centres.
One such airport is Tokyo's Haneda, which in 2020 opened new routes. Although the numbers of flights arriving were suppressed by unexpected subsequent travel bans, pre-COVID the new routes would have increased Haneda's annual international arrivals and departures from 60,000 to 99,000. The result would be many aircraft flying at low altitudes over Tokyo, as seen in the following tweet.
The International Space Station is getting mobile robot “space avatars” controllable by the public from Earth, courtesy of a joint project between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and ANA Holdings’ telepresence start-up avatarin.
The project will create a virtual remote space tourism experience aimed at those who can't afford to hitch a ride with Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson.
JAXA’s press release reads:
Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will send a transforming robot to the Moon.
The space agency announced its plans and revealed the design depicted below today. You’re looking at a device JAXA says will be 80mm in diameter, before transformation, and weighs in at 250 grams.
Honda and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have agreed to embark on a joint feasibility study to supply oxygen, hydrogen, and electricity to humans and rovers in outer space.
The circulative renewable energy system is the subject of a three-year research agreement signed in November 2020 and intended for use on the Lunar Gateway and the Moon. Gateway is the planned lunar-orbit space station from NASA intended to house a rotation of astronauts.
In a canned statement, JAXA described the study:
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