Tokyo, Japan—The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Ricoh Company, Ltd., announced they have jointly developed a spherical 360º space camera for use in outer space. The camera will allow capture of 360º spherical images in a single shot outside of a spacecraft.
The camera will monitor the operation of the biaxial gimbal of the SOLISS (Small Optical Link for International Space Station). The H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV8) KOUNOTORI-8, the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS), transported the camera on September 11, 2019. It will shoot spherical pictures and videos from the Exposed Facility of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Kibo and send them to ground stations.
360º Space Camera Based on Japanese Consumer Camera
Moreover, the camera is based on a consumer product. The two companies announced that it “is the world’s smallest 360º camera that can be used in outer space.” In addition, it is the first time that a 360º-capable camera based on a consumer product from a Japanese company will take spherical images in outer space.
Furthermore, JAXA and Ricoh jointly developed the camera under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2018 to mutually cooperate. The camera is based on the Ricoh Theta compact spherical camera, and JAXA took measures to allow the camera to withstand the heat and radiation of space.
Given the compact size and light weight of the camera, as well as the fact that it shoots 360º spherical images in a single shot, it will significant visual information in outer space. In addition, JAXA will further utilize this technology as a monitor camera attached outside a spacecraft.
For its part, Ricoh plans to expand the use of its 360º cameras to a wider variety of industries. “It will also contribute to the development of science and society; including space development, through technology research and development,” the company announced.