Japan mini-satellite to flash code from space

Oct 05, 2012 by Miwa Suzuki
This computer graphic (CG) image, released by Fukuoka Institute of Technology and and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on October 5, shows a Morse code in the night sky, which is transmitted by a palm sized satellite, developed by Japan's Fukuoka Institute of Technology professor Takushi Tanaka.

A palm-sized Japanese satellite in orbit around Earth will flash a Morse code message that will be visible around the world from next month, the mission commander said Friday.

Researchers hope the satellite, measuring 10 centimetres (four inches) cubed and launched from the on Friday, will become the first orbiter to transmit an LED message across the .

The message was originally intended to be seen just in Japan, but people around the world have asked for the satellite to communicate when it overflies them, said Takushi Tanaka, professor at The Fukuoka Institute of Technology.

"Requests came from far more people than I expected—a man in wanted to see it while another man wanted us to flash it over Central Park in New York," Tanaka told AFP by telephone.

He said he has also received requests from residents of cities in Italy, Germany, Brazil, Britain and Hungary.

"There is no practical aim to this, but it is a fun experiment that everybody can join," he said.

Observers, ideally with binoculars, will be able to see flashes of light—green in the , where people will see the "front" of the satellite, and red in the , where the "back" will be visible.

This handout picture, released by Fukuoka Institute of Technology in April, shows professor Takushi Tanaka holding a palm sized satellite at his laboratory in Fukuoka. The 10cm cubic satellite, which has LED lights on surfaces, was launched from the International Space Station on October 5.

Morse code uses a series of dots and dashes to represent letters of the alphabet and is commonly understood across the world as a way of transmitting pieces of text.

"A man in Slovakia who has said he would flash back if he sees the message from space. He wants the satellite to take pictures of his beam and send them to Earth," Tanaka said.

The professor said his team would try their best to accommodate requests but warned being able to see the Morse code message would be largely dependent on the weather.

The message it will send is "Hi this is Niwaka Japan". Niwaka is the satellite's nickname and reflects a play on words in the local dialect of southwestern Japan.

Besides transmitting its LED message, the camera-equipped will also take images of Earth and send them to a base station in an experiment on high-speed data transmissions.

The solar-powered device was released from the International Space Station 390 kilometres (242 miles) above Earth and is now in a regular orbit.

Specific timings and locations will be announced later on the institute's website—www.fit.ac.jp/kenkyu/fitsat1/in Japanese and English.

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El_Nose
5 / 5 (1) Oct 05, 2012
by launched from the ISS do they mean they threw it out the door?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 05, 2012
That's a pretty shitty CG picture. The morse code in that reads "Ch Ka(Message begin) C F"
(and the first two symbols aren't even standard morse code but only used in an obscure/obsolete dialect that was once used by german railway operators. In standard ITU morse code these two sequences don't even exist)
ScooterG
1 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2012
"There is no practical aim to this"

Then why waste the money, why disrupt the night sky, and why contribute to space litter?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2012
Then why waste the money, why disrupt the night sky, and why contribute to space litter?

You may have noticed that it got people excited about it - wanting to join in and interact with it. This is the first step to getting people interested in science.

Occasionally you have to have fireworks - even though they disrupt the night sky and contribute to atmospheric pollution.

And they are also doing (quote) "an experiment on high-speed data transmissions.". So it's not all just fun and games.
corymp
3 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2012
This will lead to global advertising in our skies. lol think of what a few thousand of these things could do if kept synchronous
VendicarD
1 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2012
It is a message to the Martians.

"Dinner is ready. Japan is poisonous."
ScooterG
1 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2012
Then why waste the money, why disrupt the night sky, and why contribute to space litter?

You may have noticed that it got people excited about it - wanting to join in and interact with it. This is the first step to getting people interested in science.

Occasionally you have to have fireworks - even though they disrupt the night sky and contribute to atmospheric pollution.

And they are also doing (quote) "an experiment on high-speed data transmissions.". So it's not all just fun and games.


You're probably correct. However, the least he could do is program it to fall out of orbit as soon as his playtime is over. It would be a shame if that thing came around and hit something of value up there.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2012
It would be a shame if that thing came around and hit something of value up there.

It's in LEO. No need for deorbiting it actively. There's still plenty of atmosphere up there to bring it down in appreciable time.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2012
It would be a shame if that thing came around and hit something of value up there.

It's in LEO. No need for deorbiting it actively. There's still plenty of atmosphere up there to bring it down in appreciable time.


Good. He should have made mention of that fact, it would enhance public relations.
ChairoNeko
5 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2012
The morse code in that reads "Ch Ka(Message begin) C F"
(and the first two symbols aren't even standard morse code but only used in an obscure/obsolete dialect that was once used by german railway operators.


Actually, it reads "Ko N Ni Chi" - the first part of the message IN JAPANESE. Remember that the original intended audience was Japan.
There are several standard extensions to American Morse Code for foreign languages, and it should be no surprise the japanese are using theirs: called Wabun Morse Code.
PhotonX
1 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2012
"A man in Slovakia who has laser beam said he would flash back if he sees the message from space. He wants the satellite to take pictures of his beam and send them to Earth,"
Seriously? How strong does this fellow think his laser is? I hope he isn't expecting that his $5 office pointer will be visible from orbit. It would make a crummy picture anyway, just one more light on the surface of the planet.

He should have made mention of that fact [that the satellite is in LEO], it would enhance public relations.
I hope it isn't too snarky to ask 'Where else would it be?' We know it's moving, and is being pushed out of the ISS, so it's not going to fly itself up into a geosynchronous orbit.

I think antialias hit it on the head--anything that gets people looking up into the night sky is a good thing.
yyz
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 07, 2012
"by launched from the ISS do they mean they threw it out the door?"

Actually the satellite (one of three micro-satellites) was launched from a device, the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer, attached to the robotic arm of the Japanese Kibo module: http://www.flickr...4844161/

Here's a video of the trio being launched from the SSOD: http://www.youtub...embedded
Iceberg
not rated yet Oct 08, 2012
Adverti$ing Spacefall. Hmmm coming soon adverts in the sky. nice.

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