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JAXA and Ricoh jointly develop compact spherical camera for use in space

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Ricoh Company, Ltd. (Ricoh), announced today that they have jointly developed a spherical camera that can be used in outer space (outside the spacecraft) to capture 360-degree spherical images in a single shot.

This camera will be used to control the operation of the biaxial gimbal of the SOLISS (Small Optical Link for the International Space Station)*1. It will be carried on board the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV8) "KOUNOTORI-8", the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS), scheduled for launch on 11 September 2019. It will record spherical images and videos of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) "Kibo" Exposed Facility and send them to ground stations. This camera was developed from a consumer product, and is the world's smallest 360-degree camera that can be used in outer space. It is also the first time that this 360-degree camera based on a consumer product from a Japanese company will take spherical images in outer space.

JAXA and Ricoh jointly developed this camera under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2018 to cooperate with each other. The camera was based on Ricoh's compact spherical camera RICOH THETA*2, and JAXA has taken measures on this camera for use in space to resist heat and radiation. Given the compact size and light weight of this camera, as well as the fact that the camera can take 360-degree spherical images in a single shot, it is useful for obtaining a lot of visual information in outer space.

JAXA aims to further utilise this technology as a monitor camera to be attached outside a spacecraft. Ricoh will expand the use of its 360-degree cameras and related services to a wider variety of industries. It will also contribute to the development of science and society, including space development, through research and technology development.

SOLISS flight model imageCamera image

*1 Small Optical Link For The International Space Station: JAXA and Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. jointly developed a long-distance laser communication system under the JAXA Space Exploration Innovation Center's joint Request for Proposals (RFP) study framework*3, with the goal of establishing a real-time mass data communication system for future satellite-to-satellite and ground station communications.

* 2 RICOH THETA's external dimensions (excluding lens): 44 mm (W) x 130 mm (H) x 22.9

* 3 A project JAXA has been commissioned by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) under its innovation centre start-up programme ("Open Innovation Centre for the Expansion of the Human Sphere and the Mastering of Human Activity Through the Development of the Solar System Frontier").


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Nicole Obaid
RLA Communications Specialist

Lourdes Piqué

About the jointly developed camera, the HTV8 boarding and the operation in "Kibo".
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Public Affairs Department
Ochanomizu sola city, 4-6 Kandasurugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-8008
Email: proffice@jaxa.jp