Tag: Japan

A Japanese Spacecraft Just Landed Two Rovers On An Asteroid

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Minerva-II1 rover captured this view of asteroid Ryugu (bottom) and the Hayabusa2 spacecraft (at top right) just after the rover separated from the spacecraft on Sept. 21, 2018.

The suspense is over: Two tiny hopping robots have successfully landed on an asteroid called Ryugu — and they’ve even sent back some wild postcards from their new home.

The tiny rovers are part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission.

Engineers with the agency deployed the robots early Friday (Sept. 21), but JAXA waited until today (Sept. 22) to confirm the operation was successful and both rovers made the landing safely.

The rovers are part of the MINERVA-II1 program, and are designed to hop along the asteroid’s surface, taking photographs and gathering data.

In fact, one of the initial images sent home by the hoppers is awfully blurry, since the robot snapped it while still on the go.




In order to complete the deployment, the main spacecraft of the Hayabusa2 mission lowered itself carefully down toward the surface until it was just 180 feet (55 meters) up.

After the rovers were on their way, the spacecraft raised itself back up to its typical altitude of about 12.5 miles above the asteroid’s surface (20 kilometers).

The MINERVA-II1B rover captured this view of asteroid Ryugu on Sept. 21, 2018 shortly after separating from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The asteroid appears at lower right.

The agency still has two more deployments yet to accomplish before it can rest easy: Hayabusa2 is scheduled to deploy a larger rover called MASCOT in October and another tiny hopper next year.

And of course, the main spacecraft has a host of other tasks to accomplish during its stay at Ryugu — most notably, to collect a sample of the primitive world to bring home to Earth for laboratory analysis.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This Mechanical Instructor Can Guide And Teach Anyone How To Dance

waltz robot

Researchers have developed a waltzing robot that can teach people how to dance. This robot can take the lead, allowing the robot to teach dance sequences.

While the system has been developed for dancing, it could also have other applications including physical rehabilitation and sports training.

The system adjusts its difficulty mode based on the user’s number of previous practices and performance history.




The bot, which stands 1.8 meters tall (5 feet 9 inches), was designed by researchers at Tohoku University in Japan.

According to the authors of the study, the bot its designed for contact with adults with heights ranging from 1.5 meters (4 feet 9 inches) to 1.9 meters (6 feet two inches) meters tall.

It has a force sensor and two laser rangefinders to track movements, which are compared against motion-capture data originally recorded from professional dancers.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

World’s Heaviest Bony Fish Identified And Correctly Named

Last December 6 in Tokyo, the world’s heaviest bony fish ever caught – weighing a whopping 2,300 kilogrammes – has been identified and correctly named by Japanese experts.

The fish is a Mola alexandrini bump-head sunfish, and not a member of the more commonly known Mola mola ocean sunfish species as originally thought, according to researchers from Hiroshima University.

Bony fish have skeletons made of bone rather than cartilage, as is the case for sharks or rays.

In the study, published in the journal Ichthyological Research, researchers led by Etsuro Sawai referred to more than one thousand documents and specimens from around the world – some of which date back 500 years.

Their aim was to clarify the scientific names for the species of the genus Mola in fish.




They also solved a case of mistaken identity. The Guinness World Records lists the world’s heaviest bony fish as Mola mola, researchers said.

However, Sawai’s team found a female Mola alexandrini specimen of 2,300 kilogramme and 2.72 meter caught off the Japanese coast in 1996 as the heaviest bony fish ever recorded.

Sawai’s team re-identified it as actually being a Mola alexandrini based on its characteristic head bump, chin bump and rounded clavus although this specimen was identified Mola mola until now.

Ocean sunfishes count among the world’s largest bony fish, and have for centuries attracted interest from seafarers because of their impressive size and shape, researchers said.

Specimens can measure up to three meters (total length), and many weighing more than two thousand kilogrammes have been caught.

Instead of a caudal fin, sunfish have a broad rudder-like lobe called a clavus, they said.

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Pass it on: New Scientist