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The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) 'KIBO' is the first Japanese manned experimental facility and will be docked to the International Space Station in 2008. Kibo means 'Hope' in Japanese.

Japanese Experiment Module Picture

ISS uses of Kibo:

1. Observation of Earth’s Environment

One of the most important experiments planned for KIBO is the observation of Earth’s environment. Our planet is faced with serious environmental problems such as the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming and desertification. KIBO will enable us to study these problems from space in order to find clues to how to solve them. Scientists will study trace gases that deplete the ozone layer and observe short waves (sub-millimetre waves) emitted by ozone.

2. Microgravity Experiments

Microgravity experiments conducted in space will produce larger and more uniformly-sized protein crystals which will help us understand disease mechanisms and develop new medicines. KIBO will also be the site of studies on the influence of microgravity and radiation on plants, animals and humans and experiments in robotics, communications and energy.

3. Materials Processing and Life Science Research

Japanese materials processing and life science research will be conducted in the Japanese Experiment Module, which also has an external platform, airlock and robotic manipulator for "in-space" or exposed experiments.

4. Feature World’s Largest Wide-Angle X-ray Camera

The world’s largest wide-angle X-ray camera will be mounted on the platform to make observations of space and examine phenomena beyond our galaxy and refine our map of the distribution of the galaxies.

Japanese Experiment Module Components

Japanese Space Module PicKibo consists of four components: two experimental facilities, the Pressurized Module and Exposed Facility, logistics modules attached to each of them and a Manipulator to be used for experiments or for Orbit Replaceable Units (ORU) changeout tasks. Kibo has a scientific airlock through which experiments are transferred and exposed to the external environment of space.

1. Pressurized Module

The Pressurized Module is the central part of Kibo in which mainly experiments utilizing the microgravity environment are conducted. Ten experiment racks equipped with various devices are located inside the Pressurized Module. The Pressurized Module is 11.2m long and 4.4m in diameter, about the size of a large sightseeing bus and will allow astronauts to work in a comfortable environment with air composition and pressure similar to Earth’s.

2. Exposed Facility

The Exposed Facility will be a staging area for long-term experiments in open space, as well as Earth and astronomical observations. The Exposed Facility is a unique facility in that it enables astronauts to conduct experiments with direct exposure to space without any modification.

3. Experiment Logistics Modules

The Experiment Logistics Modules (ELMs) serve as on-orbit storage areas that house materials for experiments, maintenance tools and supplies. The Pressurized Module and the Exposed Facility each have an ELM.

The Experiment Logistics Module (ELM) contain a pressurized section to serve the Pressurized Module and an unpressurized section to serve the Exposed Facility. It is placed atop the port side of the Pressurized Module and is highly movable. It is intended as a storage and transportation module.

4. Remote Manipulator System

The Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS) serves as an arm to support experiments conducted on the Exposed Facility. The main arm handles large items, for delicate tasks, the small fine arm can attached at the end of the main arm. The main arm is equipped with a TV camera which allows astronauts to monitor the operation from inside the pressurized module.

The development of KIBO, mainly by the Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC), is already in the final stages. The assembly of the airframe and the testing of KIBO’s integrated systems have been completed and the functional test of the airframe has been conducted at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in the United States.

Kibo experiments and systems will be operated from the Mission Control Room at the Space Station Operations Facility (SSOF) at Tsukuba Space Center in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, just north of Tokyo.

NASA plans to launch the entire Japanese Experiment Module complex in three flights.


The Japanese and Indian Space Programmes: Two Roads into Space by Brian Harvey
from and

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Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014

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