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Press Release 2016

2016/Mar/01

Holding great promise for collecting samples in unique environments

Nitto Gecko Tape used to conduct a long-term space exposure experiments during the "Tanpopo Mission"

Nitto Denko Corporation (Headquarters: Osaka; President, CEO & COO: Hideo Takasaki; hereafter, “Nitto”) announced that it will provide Gecko Tape (registered trademark: Nitto GeckoTM), a biological emulation adhesive developed by Nitto, as a sample for long-term exposure in space during the "Tanpopo Mission" administered by JAXA, Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, and other organizations. Long-term exposure tests are currently being conducted on the product.

Background/Objective
Nitto Gecko Tape is used in an ever-expanding variety of unique environments where the use of traditional adhesives would be difficult. Nitto is especially focused on expanding the use of the product in the harsh environment of outer space, along with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) who is currently conducting adhesive durability experiments on-board the "Hayabusa 2" craft.
Now, JAXA has decided to conduct space exposure experiments on Nitto Gecko Tape to collect fine matter floating in space during the "Tanpopo Mission," which is currently investigating the possibility of life in outer space. Gecko Tape will be attached to the Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism (ExHAM) installed on the Japanese "Kibo" experiment module outboard experimental platform on the International Space Station.

In addition to exposure experiments, JAXA intends to conduct experiments on the durability of Gecko Tape against highly reactive atomic oxygen floating in outer space. The agency hopes this will allow them to collect substantial data related to durability in the harsh environment of outer space in order to apply the data toward the use of Japanese technologies and products in outer space.
Facing the next 100 years, Nitto will strive to realize “Innovation for Customers” into in the green (environment), clean (new energy), and fine (life sciences) fields, and will continue to help customers create value.
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Left: The Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism (ExHAM) installed outside the "Kibo" Japanese experiment module (ExHAM shown in the yellow box).
Right: "Tanpopo" experimental sample loaded with aerogel, mounted on the side of ExHAM.(Gecko Tape circled in yellow).
Both photos provided by JAXA.

The Tanpopo Mission
The Tanpopo Mission was launched to investigate the existence of life in outer space.
Collection and exposure experiments will be conducted to determine whether microbes can move through outer space, and whether organic matter—the raw material for life—could have arrived on earth via space dust. Researchers from Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, JAXA, and universities and research institutions all over Japan are participating in the mission. Researchers are conducting experiments that fall into one of two broad categories.

-Space dust/microbe collection experiments:
Aerogel (a gelatin-like collection material) is attached to the outside of "Kibo" to collect organic matter floating through space, such as amino acids—the so-called seeds of life.
-Organic matter/microbe outer space exposure experiments: Microbes are exposed to outer space to investigate the possibility of life.

Both types of experiments have been conducted since May 2015 on the experimental platform outside of the Japanese "Kibo" experiment module on the International Space Station (ISS). Once materials are exposed to outer space, they will be recovered and analyzed on earth.

Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism (ExHAM)
ExHAM is an experimental device that can be attached and removed from the handrail located on the "Kibo" experiment module platform. It primarily allows researchers to gather substantial data on the durability of materials for use in outer space after the materials are exposed long-term to outer space environments and returned to earth. ExHAM was installed on "Kibo" in May 2015, while ExHAM2 was installed in November.

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