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KASPER (Kounotori Advanced SPace Environment Research) aboard KOUNOTORI5

We would like to introduce experiments and observations performed by the KASPER (Kounotori Advanced SPace Environment Research) aboard the KOUNOTORI5, a cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS), which was launched on August 19 (Wed.), 2015.


Overview of KASPER

The KASPER (Kounotori Advanced SPace Environment Research) is an instrument that consists of a charge sensor and a space debris sensor to monitor the space environment.

Major purposes of the KASPER are as follows. 1) With the charge sensor, HTV5's potential is measured during its solo flight after its separation from the launch vehicle as well as before and after being berthed to the ISS to study the influence of the orbit plasma environment and attitude and orbit of a spacecraft with the HTV's potential. 2) With the debris sensor, minute debris which can become a serious obstacle to spacecraft and human extravehicular activities is measured to demonstrate the sensor technology.


Structure and mission of KASPER

To be more precise, the KASPER is made up of the following four sensors shown in Chart 1. Figure 1 indicates the layout of each sensor, and Figure 2 shows the location on the HTV5. After being launched by the H-IIB Launch Vehicle, the KASPER on the HTV5 was turned on after the HTV5 was separated from the H-IIB. Then the KASPER continues its operation till the HTV5's re-entry including during its solo flight and while being moored at the ISS. The mission period is, therefore, the same as that of the HTV5, for about 40 days.

  1. Charge sensor
  2. Electrical charge can be a cause of instrument failure on a spacecraft, thus a charge sensor accumulates information of electrical potential and improves analysis precision. It also gains a correlation between plasma and charge potential around a spacecraft to improve the accuracy of the design evaluation of a spacecraft by reflecting the attained result on design criteria for electrical charge.

  3. Debris sensor
  4. Although debris in the size of 100μm to a few millimeters can cause a serious accident or instrument failure to spacecraft and human activities in space, their spreading distribution is almost unknown. We are establishing technology for measurement methods in this unexplored field to appropriately evaluate risks and perform necessary protection.


Chart 1: KASPER sensors

Sensor Overview Mission
Charge sensor TREK-3G Contact-type surface potential measurement instrument to measure surface electrical potential on the HTV. Space environmental conditions, and HTV's flight conditions such as orbit position and flight attitude, are all constantly changing. The sensor evaluates the influence of such changing factors to the electric potential of the HTV by measuring surface potential and plasma current on and around the HTV. (TREK-3G was stated to be onboard since the HTV 4.)
LP Plasma current measurement instrument to measure electron density around the HTV.
Debris sensor SDM
:Space Debris Monitor
Film pass-through type minute debris measurement instrument to detect a collision with tiny debris of 100μm to a few mm, and measure the collided debris. The sensor demonstrates the technology of observing minute debris of 100μm to a few mm to establish the on-orbit measurement technology of minute debris, whose data has not been collected to date, for appropriately design debris protection.
:Chiba-koudai Debris Monitor
Piezoelectric element type debris measurement instrument to detect a collision with minute debris of a few μm to 100μm or smaller.
Size: 75 x 50 x 12 cm; Weight: about 8 kg; Power consumption: 30 w (including electricity for the heater)

*CDM was jointly developed by JAXA and Chiba Institute of Technology.