Miyamoto Laboratory is based in the Department of Systems Innovation, Graduate School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo, but is also affiliated with the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo, and collaborates with the University of Adelaide and the US Planetary Science Institute. Our research interests are mainly in solar system exploration and space resources.
The laboratory is located in the Engineering Building No. 3 (next to the Faculty of Science Building No. 1) on the Hongo Campus of the University of Tokyo. Students who are assigned to the laboratory belong to the PSI course in the Department of Systems Innovation in the Faculty of Engineering or the Department of Earth and Planetary Science in the Faculty of Science for undergraduate students, and to the Department of Systems Innovation in the Graduate School of Engineering or the Department of Earth and Planetary Science in the Graduate School of Science for graduate students.
The laboratory gives priority to students who wish to become space-related specialists, so we recommend that those who wish to be assigned to the laboratory contact Professor Miyamoto in advance to discuss the content of their research and how to proceed with their research. Specialists are not necessarily only researchers, but also include those who wish to work in related fields, such as space-related consultants and space start-ups.
The career paths of our graduates vary. Some researchers go to national universities, overseas universities, or space agencies such as JAXA to work at the forefront of space exploration, while others work in consultanting firms, major media, or at financial institutions. Some have become manufacturers or civil servants. We no longer live in an era in which there are no jobs available for those who pursue a career in space, and I don’t think there are any graduates who have had trouble finding work.
Our interest in future space resource exploitation drives us to understand the geology, sediment conditions, and shallow subsurface structure of celestial surfaces. Engineering students tend to work with machine learning, data processing, and numerical models, while science students are expected to conduct scientific research directly related to the origin and evolution of each celestial body. The research topics of the affiliated students are decided after they join the laboratory, after considerable time and consultation, and are often changed in the middle of the course according to their interests and qualities. We do researches primarily in the following directions:
1. Contribution to scientific exploration promoted by government agencies
We participate in exploration programs conducted by JAXA, NASA, ESA, and other organizations to study asteroids, Mars, the Moon, and satellites. Our laboratory specializes in surface environment and geological analysis of solid bodies, with the goal of clarifying the uniqueness and universality of the Earth’s surface environment through comparison of various bodies. Also, from engineering point of view, we conduct basic studies that lead to the utilization of space resources. The laboratory is in charge of Geology and Surface Science of JAXA’s Mars Moons eXploration (MMX) mission and of subsurface structures for JAXA’s Lunar Polar Exploration mission (LUPEX). Also, we are in charge of overall science and business of the TSUKIMI lunar resource mission as leading a consortium of Lunar Science and Lunar Resources.
2. Space resources studies with private companies
Many private companies are currently engaged in space exploration. Our laboratory is conducting joint researches with private companies toward their respective plans. In particular, we have a strong capital tie-up with DigitalBlast and are involved with their commercial space station program to investigate future development of space resources by the private sector.
3. Basic research related to space resource development
For landing exploration, it is important to understand the mechanical properties of the materials of the target object. At the request of JAXA, NASA, and other organizations, we are developing simulants for the moon, asteroids, and other bodies. We are also developing object recognition, super-resolution, and three-dimensional reconstruction techniques using machine learning and applying them to planetary geology in combination with geographic information systems. In collaboration with TV companies and major construction companies, we are conducting research on astronomical simulation fields using drones and flow analysis of simulated materials. We are also contributing to disaster science.