Photo/IllutrationProfessor Masanori Nishio, right, and students show off a model of the satellite at the Aichi University of Technology in Gamagori, Aichi Prefecture. (Shoichiro Muraji)

  • Photo/Illustraion

GAMAGORI, Aichi Prefecture—A university team here plans to launch “an artificial star” into orbit that will transmit images of outer space to Earth and be visible to the naked eye.

The ultra-small satellite will be launched aboard an H-2A rocket of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture in April next year at the earliest, the team at the Aichi University of Technology said at a news conference on April 28.

“I will be happy if it (the satellite) helps familiarize people with space,” a university official said.

The orbiter is being developed primarily by Masanori Nishio, an engineering professor at the university, and four students, but local companies are also providing assistance for the project.

The cube-shaped satellite, with each side measuring 10 centimeters, is being made of shock-resistant duralumin and will weigh 1.65 kilograms.

Viewed from Earth, the satellite’s eight beam-type LEDs will make it appear brighter than sixth-magnitude stars, which are barely visible to the naked eye, team members said.

The satellite will also be fitted with 24 wide-angle LEDs. It can send messages in Morse code to Earth.

The artificial star will be able to send images taken by two fisheye omnidirectional cameras to officials on Earth over an amateur radio.

Under the current plan, the satellite will travel 613 kilometers above Earth for seven years after entering the planet’s orbit, according to the team.