Japanese H-2A vehicle launches with Ibuki satellite

by Rui C. Barbosa

Japan has launched a satellite that will be used to observe the concentration distribution of greenhouse gases from space. The launch of the Ibuki satellite (also known by GOSAT – Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite) took place on January 23 at 03:54 UTC from the LP1 launch platform of the Yoshinubo launch complex on Tanegashima.

The launch vehicle used was the 202 version of the H-2A rocket equipped with two solid rocket boosters and with the 4S fairing design (4 meters in diameter). Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. was in charge of the launch service of the H-IIA.

According to JAXA the Ibuki satellite is equipped with a greenhouse gas observation sensor (TANSO-FTS) and a cloud/aerosol sensor (TANSO-CAI) that supplements TANSO-FTS. The greenhouse gas observation sensor of Ibuki observes a wide range of wave lengths (near infrared region – thermal infrared region) within the infrared band to enhance observation accuracy.

The number of observation channels is as large as approx 18,500. A cloud/aerosol sensor observes clouds and aerosol that can be a factor leading to errors in the measurement of greenhouse gas in order to improve greenhouse gas observation accuracy.

The satellite will observes infrared rays radiated from the sun and reflected from the ground surface and the spectrum of infrared rays radiated from ground surface or the atmosphere itself. As they pass through a gas infrared rays are absorbed only by specific colours, which means components with a specific wave length are revealed. Ibuki calculates the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere utilizing this principle.

Ibuki is a cooperative project among JAXA, the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). JAXA mainly takes charge of development, launching and operation of sensors and satellites. MOE and NIES carries out advanced processing of data and utilizes it.

Ikubi has a approximate mass of 1750 kg. Is equipped with two solar panels that generate 3.8 kW. The satellite will operate for 5 years on a sun-synchronous sub-recurrent orbit with a inclination of 98 deg.

The H-2A can be in various configurations by installing additional solid rocket boosters. It’s first stage has a length of 37.2 meters, a diameter of 4 meters and a mass of 114 tons. The stage burns a mixture of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, developing a liftoff thrust of 1,098 kN. Its burning time is of 390 seconds.

The H-IIA/202 is equipped with two solid rocket boosters. Each SRB-A has a length of 15.1 meters, a diameter of 2.5 meters and a mass of 77 tons. This solid boosters burn a mixture of polybutadiene composite solid propellant, developing a liftoff thrust of 2,245 kN each unit. The SRB-A operate for 60 seconds.

The second stage has a length of 9.2 meters, a diameter of 4 meters and a mass of 20 tons. The stage burns a mixture of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, developing a liftoff thrust of 137 kN. Its burning time is of 530 seconds.

The H-2A is capable of launching a cargo of 2.000 kg to a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), 10.000 kg to a Low earth Orbit with a Inclination of 30 degrees, 4.000 kg to a Sun Synchronous Orbit or 2.500 kg to a planetary mission.

There were another satellites on board the H-2A together with Ibuki, namely the SDS-1 (Small Demonstration Satellite-1), the SOHLA-1 (Space Oriented Higashiosaka Leading Association), the SpriteSAT, the PRISM (Pico-satellite for Remote-sensing and Innovative Space Missions), the KKS-1 (Kouku-Kosen-Satellite-1), the STARS-1 and the Kagayaki (SorunSAT).

The SDS-1 satellite was developed by JAXA as part of an effort to improve the reliability of satellites, and to verify new technologies at the part, material, or component level in space by using a small satellite to improve technological achievements. The satellite will carry out operational experiments on new technologies in space to apply them for future satellite development. The SDS-1 has a mass of about 100 kg.

The SDS-1 carries three equipments: the Space Wire Demonstrations Module, the Multi-mode Transponder, and the Advanced Microprocessor In-Orbit Experiment Equipment.

The SOHLA-1 satellite is a technical demonstration satellite developed by local small and medium-sized enterprises with technical support of JAXA and Osaka Prefecture University. The main objective of SOHLA-1 is to acquire and to accumulate various technologies for small satellite development.

Another mission of SOHLA-1 is on-orbit demonstration of several new technologies such as the VHF lightning impulse measurement. The satellite has a mass of 50 kg and is expected mission duration if of 1 year.

Sprite-SAT is a micro satellite in the size of 50 cm cube and weighing less than 50-kg. The satellite was developed by the Tohoku University and will conduct scientific observation of atmospheric luminous emissions called “sprites”.

The satellite was developed by the faculty and student members of Tohoku University, with technical supports from mentors (well-experienced experts) of the satellite development. Students played leading roles in the assembling and testing processes.

Through this project, the students have gained precious experience in various aspects of a space flight mission, such as quality verification and trouble shooting. This program is therefore considered a unique opportunity for hands-on education (or project-based learning) in space science and space engineering.

The PRISM satellite is to serve as a first attempt at applying nano-satellites to practical missions. The mission of PRISMs is to conduct technical experiments on Ground Image Acquisition using a refracted optical system with an extensible boom (expected resolution of 10 m to 30 m), to conduct technical experiments and demonstrate a nano-satellite bus using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts, and to perform various services and experiments for the amateur radio community. The small satellite has a mass of 5 kg.

The KKS-1 is a small 3 kg, educational technology satellite built by the Tokyo Metropolitan College of Industrial Technology. The satellite will demonstrate experiments on micro-thrusters, will conduct basic experiments on 3-axis attitude control and is going to take land images with a small camera.

The STARS-1 satellite consists of a Mother Satellite and a Daughter Satellite connected by a tether. The Mother Satellite deploys the tether having the Daughter Satellite at its end. Daughter Satellite has one arm, and the tether is attached at its end. Then attitude control by arm motion using tether tension is possible.

The main mission is to take pictures of a satellite during tether deployment. In this mission the Mother Satellite deploys tether having Daughter Satellite at its end. The Daughter Satellite controls attitude of CCD camera by robot motion. The Mother Satellite and Daughter Satellite communicate through Bluetooth.

The Daughter Satellite will take pictures of the Mother Satellite, and transmitters these to ground stations through amateur radio frequency.

Finally, the Kagayaki satellite is a small satellite to demonstrate different technologies and to invite handicapped children to the launch site and carry their messages. Kagayaki will demonstrate technologies to perform an autonomous control system, to perform an inflatable progress boom. to detect space debris and to observe aurora.

Related Articles