はやぶさ帰還 歴史的快挙を次に生かそう

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 16, 2010)
Hayabusa's achievements should be built on
はやぶさ帰還 歴史的快挙を次に生かそう(6月15日付・読売社説)

Hayabusa, a space probe of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, has finally returned to Earth. This is a great accomplishment in the history of space exploration.
 宇宙航空研究開発機構の探査機「はやぶさ」が帰ってきた。宇宙開発史に残る快挙と言える。

Hayabusa, which means peregrine falcon, left Earth in May 2003. It landed on Itokawa, an asteroid 300 million kilometers from Earth, in November 2005 and attempted to take samples of sand and other surface materials there. The probe's entire space voyage lasted seven years, ending with its homecoming on Sunday.
 2003年5月に地球を出発した。05年11月に3億キロ・メートル離れた小惑星イトカワに着陸し、砂などのサンプル採取を試みた。帰還まで、宇宙の旅は7年の長きに及んだ。

Hayabusa is the first space probe to return to Earth after landing on a celestial body other than the moon.
 初めて月以外の天体に探査機が着陸して帰還したことになる。

The probe's main body burned up upon entering Earth's atmosphere, but before that it released a capsule, which landed safely in the desert in Australia, that may contain samples from Itokawa. JAXA will bring the capsule back to this country and confirm whether it contains sand or other materials from the asteroid.
 はやぶさ本体は大気圏突入で燃え尽きた。採取したサンプルを収めるカプセルは突入前に分離、豪州の砂漠に着地した。日本に運び内部を確認する。

Unlike sand and stones on Earth, which have become oxidized and changed over many years, geologic material on asteroids is believed to have remained as it was in the early stages of the solar system. Such material would give important clues to understanding the history of the solar system.
 小惑星の砂や石は、酸化などが進んだ地球の石と違い、太陽系の初期の状態に近い。太陽系の歴史を探るヒントになるだろう。

Unfortunately, however, it is not certain whether the probe actually was able to take samples of surface material, since Hayabusa's gathering device did not work as expected. But JAXA said that sand stirred up when the probe landed on the asteroid may have entered the capsule.
 残念ながら、装置の不調で確実にサンプルが採取できたかどうか分からない。だが、着陸時に舞い上がった砂がカプセル内に入った可能性はある。

===

Miraculous engines

Needless to say, the return of Hayabusa itself is a miracle. The probe experienced technical and mechanical malfunctions throughout its systems as it traveled a total distance of 6 billion kilometers, 40 times the distance between the sun and Earth.
 そもそも帰還自体が奇跡だ。地球―太陽間の40倍にあたる約60億キロ・メートルの飛行で、機体は各所が故障し、満身創痍(そうい)だった。

First, fuel leaked from one of Hayabusa's chemical engines after it left the asteroid to return home, which caused JAXA to lose control and later communications. Although the agency fortunately was able to restore communications and put Hayabusa back on its homeward journey in 2006, JAXA had to constantly walk a tightrope for the remainder of the probe's long space flight.
 まずイトカワ離陸後に燃料が漏れた。制御不能になり、通信も途絶した。06年、幸運にも復旧し帰路についたが、長期の飛行で、ぎりぎりの運用が続いてきた。

Almost all the probe's devices malfunctioned, but a new type of engine manufactured by a Japanese company did outstanding work.
 活躍したのは、搭載された日本独自の新型エンジンだ。

Called ion engines, these new thrusters have much weaker propulsion than chemical engines, which expel jets of high-pressure gas. The power of an ion engine's thrust could only keep a 1 yen coin aloft on Earth, but it can work for long hours on far less fuel than a chemical engine needs. The ion engines were used for a total of 40,000 hours to control the probe's attitude.
 イオンエンジンと呼ばれる。高圧ガスを噴く化学エンジンなどと比べて推進力は小さい。地上で1円玉を動かす程度の力だが、少ない燃料で長期間動く。これが、のべ4万時間、機体を制御した。

This, along with the automatic control technology that made it possible for the probe to land on the asteroid, demonstrates to the world how advanced Japan's technology in space exploration is. We can expect Japanese-made ion engines to be sold to other countries for use in their space probes and satellites.
 小惑星着陸を成功させた自動制御技術とともに、技術の高さを世界に示した。海外の探査機や衛星への売り込みも期待される。

===

Don't block progress

However, we are concerned with the next project. Development is currently stalled on Hayabusa 2, which is intended to conduct higher-level exploration of another asteroid. Learning from the lessons of Hayabusa's development, which cost 13 billion yen, the new project's budget is set at almost the same amount.
 心配なのは、次の計画だ。開発に約130億円をかけた「はやぶさ」の教訓を生かし、ほぼ同じ規模の予算で、別の小惑星の高度な探査を目指す「はやぶさ2」の開発が滞っている。

Nonetheless, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry's budget for space exploration was cut drastically, a victim of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government's plan to make high school education free, which costs nearly 400 billion yen.
 民主党が進める高校無償化に4000億円近くかかり、そのしわ寄せで、文部科学省の宇宙予算が大幅に削られたためだ。

Funding this fiscal year for Hayabusa 2 was cut to just 30 million yen, compared with the 1.7 billion yen made in its budgetary request before the DPJ took office from the Liberal Democratic Party.
はやぶさ2の今年度予算は、政権交代前の概算要求額17億円が、3000万円まで圧縮された。

The government should spend money on a meaningful project, rather than on handout measures.
 ばらまき予算よりも、意義のある計画に予算を投じるべきだ。

There could be a blank period of more than 10 years until the next space probe project, given the positional relationship between Earth and asteroids. Memories of the successful space mission could fade during this downtime.
 地球と小惑星の位置関係を考えると、次の探査機までに10年以上の空白期が生じかねない。経験が風化してしまう。

There must be no retreat in efforts to pass important technology in space exploration to the next generation of scientists and engineers, so they can improve it further.
貴重な技術を次世代につなぎ、発展させる取り組みを後退させてはならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 15, 2010)
(2010年6月15日02時04分 読売新聞)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-16 05:14 | 英字新聞

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