Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE) - 02.22.17

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The Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE) investigation consists of five small unique instruments that are located at Equipment Exchange Unit (EER) site 8 on the Japanese Experiment Module - Exposed Facility (JEF). These small investigations include two atmospheric observation investigations that study lightning and resonant scattering from plasma and airglow through the rim of the atmosphere, and three technological demonstration investigations that include inflatable structure deployment, robotic tether movement and the testing of a high definition television (HDTV) camera in the space environment. Several photos taken by a digital still camera from the CUPOLA window give IMAP investigation further observation data and enhance research outcome (A-IMAP/Earth Rim observation).
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Akinori Saito, Tomoo Ushio, Tsuyoshi Ito, Chikara Harada, Akinori Saito, Mitsushige Oda, Takahira Aoki, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Experiment Details

OpNom: MCE

Principal Investigator(s)
Akinori Saito, IMAP: Kyoto University, Japan
Tomoo Ushio, GLIMS: Osaka University, Japan
Tsuyoshi Ito, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
Chikara Harada, JAXA, Japan
Akinori Saito, IMAP: Kyoto University, Japan
Mitsushige Oda, REXJ: JAXA, Japan
Takahira Aoki, SIMPLE: Tokyo University, Japan

Mitsuteru Sato, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
Kenshi Matsumoto, Kinki University, Japan
Ryohei Ishida, Osaka Prefecture University, Sakai, Japan
Masayuki Kikuchi, National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan
Zenichiro Kawasaki, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
Kenji Morimoto, Kinki University, Japan
Yukihiro Takahashi, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
Hiroshi Kikuchi, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
Takeshi Sakanoi, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
Ichiro Yoshikawa, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Yusuke Akiya, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Hiroyuki Nakata, Nagoya University, Japan
Menshin Miyoshi, Chiba University, Japan
Yuichi Otsuka, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
Yuta Hozumi, Kyoto University, Japan
Shoichi Okano, Tohoku University, Japan
Takuji Nakamura, NIPR, Japan
Perwitasari Septi, Tohoku University, Japan
Ken Higuchi, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
Hiroshi Furuya, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kanagawa, Japan
Yasuyuki Miyazaki, Nihon University, Tokyo, Japan
Naoko Kishimoto, Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
Yasuo Ishimura, ISAS, Japan
Hiroaki Tsunoda, Tokai University, Tokyo, Japan
Kei Izumida, Kyoto University, Japan
Junichiro Ishizawa, Institute of Aerospace Technology, Ibaraki, Japan

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tsukuba, Japan

Sponsoring Space Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Sponsoring Organization
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
May 2012 - March 2016

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE) is a conglomeration of five unique investigations into a single payload assembly.

  • IMAP (Ionosphere,Mesosphere,upper Atomosphere, and Plasmasphere mapping) studies the energy and plasma activity and related global transportation near the rim of atmosphere, at the highest altitudes, using a visible light spectrometer.

  • GLIMS (Global Lightning and sprIte MeasurementS on JEM-EF) investigates the spatial distribution of lightning and plasma phenomena and their discharge characteristics throughout the atmosphere during night observation times.

  • SIMPLE (Space Inflatable Membranes Pioneering Long-term Experiments) collects fundamental engineering data in orbit for inflatable space structures; with the expectation of applying such information to the design of future space structures.

  • REXJ (Robot Experiment on JEM) demonstrates realtime ground control of a robotic system by providing validation data during robotic manipulation. This investigation is expected to lead to an application of an EVA assistant type robot.

  • HDTV acquires data for evaluating how long a COTS-HDTV (COTS HTDV Verification) survives in the orbit environment. This evaluation includes a validation for inexpensive space HDTV systems.

  • A-IMAP makes imaging observation of the airglow and aurora using a digital camera operated by an astronaut to elucidate the structures and dynamics of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Coordinated observations with IMAP are carried out to investigate the common target.

Information Pending

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Space Applications
Information Pending

Earth Applications
Information Pending

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
Information Pending

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

An initial checkout operation for the ISS Imagers for Ionosphere, Mesosphere, upper Atmosphere, and Plasmasphere (IMAP) mission was performed in 2012. It is confirmed that all the functions and the qualities of the instruments are normal compared with ground-test results before launch. The visible-light and infrared spectrum imager (VISI) and extra ultraviolet imager (EUVI) obtained the first light images to measure the invisible airglow and emission from the upper atmosphere. During 2015 ISS-IMAP performs stable observations and uploaded “sequence file” to the Mission data processor (MDP).
After the installation of Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE) into the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) exposed facility, an initial checkout operation for JEM Global Lightning and Sprite Measurements (JEM-GLIMS) was performed. The condition, systems and functions of JEM-GLIMS instruments are normal after installation on the International Space Station (ISS). Tests were automatically started by the command sequence. It is confirmed that JEM-GLIMS correctly triggered the lightning events and stored all science data. The tests determined the appropriate trigger threshold levels for nominal operation. From these data, it is possible to estimate the direction of the source location of the electromagnetic waves. Very Low Frequency (VLF) receiver detected whistler wave (VLF electromagnetic (radio) wave generated by lightning), which are excited by lightning discharges and penetrated into the ISS altitude. From this whistler wave data, it is possible to estimate electric properties of the parent lightning discharges.
As space exploration and its utilization expand, tasks such as building, operating and maintaining satellites and space station in orbit also increase. In the future and whenever possible, work should be done by robots especially if the tasks are hazardous and risky for astronauts. A unique space robot is being developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) under the Astronaut Support Robot (Astrobot) and the next generation space robots (NGSR) projects. The Robot Experiment on Japanese Experiment Module (REXJ) is designed to demonstrate some key technologies which are essential to develop the astronaut support robots. The key technologies to be tested are: (1) Manipulation capability such as handling equipment and tools to make ready and also to conduct repairs on the International Space Station (ISS). (2) To work with or in place of an astronaut, the robot needs to be able to moves outside or inside the space station. The robot’s locomotion method is based on tethers. The robot is floated by tethers whose ends are attached to the robot and the other ends are attached to hand rails on the space station. The robot can change its location by changing lengths of each tether. The robot can also change its area to move by changing location of the tether’s end positions. Location of tether’s end position can be changed using the extendable robot arm. This unique robot arm is based on the Storable Tubular Extendable Member (STEM) which is widely used for years as deployable satellite antenna and whose mechanism makes the arm compact. REX-J tests are performed by remote control from the ground-based operations control room. The first step is to release the launch lock mechanism, which fastens REX-J’s movable parts, such as the extendable robotic arm. Then, the robotic arm movements and functions such as extending, retracting, grasping the hook at the end of the tether, pulling out the tether, and finally attaching the tether hook to a handrail, are tested. After the completion of checkout procedures, REX-J can then move around.
Inflatable structures greatly reduce weight and transport stowage volume of space structures. Once in space, the packed membrane is inflated using available air and secured to form the final rigid structure. The inner volume of inflatables may serve any purpose such as living, working, or farming quarters. The SIMPLE (Space Inflatable Membranes Pioneering Long-term Experiments) investigation began in 2007 to test the concepts and feasibility of space inflatable structures in orbit. SIMPLE is one of the five mission payloads of the Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE) project, which is among the series of Exposed Facility experiments on Japan Experiment Module (JEM) of the International Space Station (ISS). The main objective of SIMPLE is to prove that space inflatable structure and its useful features are ideal for future space exploitations. All of the design, manufacture, assembly phases of SIMPLE equipment and its integration to MCE were successful. MCE was launched and was installed to the Exposed Facility in 2012. SIMPLE consists of three experimental sub-mission equipment: Inflatable Extension Mast (IEM), Inflatable Space Terrarium (IST), and Inflatable Material Panel (IMP). IEM is the extensible mast composed of multi-STEM forming a closed cross-sectional beam. The driving force of its extension is elicited from the inflatable tube stored inside the mast. IST is the pressurized membrane structure which can provide pseudo-atmospheric environment in orbit. IMP is the deployable panel on which the potential candidate materials for inflatable structure are placed and tried out. These materials are exposed to on-orbit environment and are subjected to monitoring of the secular change of the material characteristics. After the initial workout of the SIMPLE equipment, the extension of IEM was performed, followed by the deployment of IST, and the start-up of IMP monitoring, all were successful.

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Results Publications

    Aoki T, Higuchi K, Watanabe K.  Progress report of SIMPLE space experiment project on ISS Japan Experiment Module. Transactions of the Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Aerospace Technology Japan. 2014; 12(ists29): Tc_1-Tc_6. DOI: 10.2322/tastj.12.Tc_1.

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

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Related Websites

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image Graphic depicting the MCE investigation and its associated sub-experiments (JAXA).
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image NASA Image - ISS033E018906 - Image through the JEM window during Expedition 33 showing the extended arm of the SIMPLE (Space Inflatable Membranes
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