SPRITE-SAT（スプライト観測衛星）(2009): JAXA Space Art Payload
Exhibition Micro-Etching Art in Outer Space
Tertiary Payload aloft the SPRITE-SAT, a secondary payload of the GOSAT, and in a 670 km sun synchronous orbit Jan 23rd - 4 Feb 2009.
Developed by Tohoku University, Japan, the primary mission of the satellite SPRITE-SAT is a scientific study of lightening phenomena above the cloud layers, in addition, using this opportunity, the university curated their first art exhibition in outer space. 40 monochrome digital drawings were submitted from invited artists from 14 different countries. These art pieces were miniaturized and fabricated on a silicon wafer using photolithography and dry-etching technology. The photolithography and etching process was done on a standard silicon wafer, so that each art piece has a 2.5 by 2.5 millimeters (minimum dot size is 5 micron). The art pieces were exhibited in orbit attached on the top of an antenna boom from the satellite until deorbit. Space Artist Ayako Ono invited Sarah Jane Pell to contribute a poetic-adaptation of Interdepend. This micro-opportunity was her first personal artistic artifact to launch into outer space: at once a symbol and an envoy of the artist-aquanaut in an respiratory embrace rising from the Earth. Within seven years, she trains to perform related PoSSUM research of mesospheric clouds, and explores a practice in Performing Astronautics.
Exhibition Micro-Etching Art in Outer Space onboard the SPRITE-SAT antenna. Images courtesy Tohoku University.
SPRITE-SAT: A University Small Satellite for Observation of High-Altitude Luminous Events
SPRITE-SAT was a micro satellite in the size of 50 cm cube and weighing 45-kg. It was launched on January 23, 2009 as a multiple secondary payload to a 670 km sun synchronous orbit. The primary payload is the GOSAT spacecraft. A nickname "RISING" was given to the SPRITE-SAT. "RA-I-JI-N" is the god of thunder and lightning in Japanese mythology. The nickname plays on the similar sound of the English word "rising" and the Japanese god "Raijin." The SPRITE-SAT (RISING) will observe upper-atmospheric lightnings called "sprites", as well as terrestrial Gamma-ray flashes (TGF) and very-low frequency (VLF) electric waves, possibly generated by the lightnings. If successful, both looking down images of sprites from outer space and the simultaneous observation of TGF and VLF would be world-first achievements. After reaching orbit, SpriteSat 1 was renamed Raijin, but failed after only 12 days. The Rising 2 project reflew the mission on a slightly modified spacecraft in May 2014.
Japan's H-IIA rocket successfully launched SPRITE-SAT from Tanegashima Space Center 12:54:00 (JST) Jan 23, 2009. Images JAXA.