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Samples exposed to the space environment return to researchers

Last Updated: October 31, 2016

The first samples that had been attached to the Exposed Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism (ExHAM) for exposure in the space environment were returned to Earth at the end of August, and then later handed over to researchers at the Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC) on September 20.

The duration of exposure in the space environment is about a year, from May 26, 2015 to June 13, 2016.

(See article about the start of exposure.)

This is the first handover of samples since the start of the exposure experiment using ExHAM. The samples handed over this time are as follows:

  • Astrobiology Exposure and Micrometeoroid Capture Experiments (TANPOPO)

    Principal Investigator (PI): Akihiko Yamagishi, Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences
  • Quest for the compositional identification and chemical evolutional understanding of Interstellar Dust (QCC)

    PI: Itsuki Sakon, University of Tokyo

Comments from Prof. Yamagishi

Analysis will finally begin finally. The sample set includes various types of samples. I'll distribute them to our cooperative experts for their responsible analysis.

Prof. Yamagishi (right) receiving the samples

Comments from Prof. Sakon

A year of exposure seemed long, but was actually short. I'm rolling up my sleeves to begin our analysis and will do my best to make some suggestions.

Prof. Sakon (right) receiving the samples

Before exposure


After exposure

Samples of TANPOPO photographed in Kibo (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

Before exposure


After exposure

Samples of QCC photographed in Kibo (Credit: JAXA/NASA)


The Exposed Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism (ExHAM), in realizing simplified utilization of Kibo's Exposed Facility (EF), is a device used for evaluating the durability of materials and parts in the space environment, and capturing objects floating in space.

ExHAM enables easy transfer between Kibo's Pressurized Module (PM) and the EF using a unique function that entails both an airlock and a robotic arm, and which are also used to deploy microsatellites. Currently, about 10 experiments have been conducted or are scheduled.


Plan ahead

The samples will be analyzed by researchers. Other exposed samples in line with the two experiment themes above will also be returned to Japan in mid-October

*All times are Japan Standard Time (JST)

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