Olympus Space Project: Images of the Earth taken from Space with the E-3

Olympus Corporation 90-year anniversary project

The Olympus Corporation today announces its 90 year anniversary project, “Olympus Space”.  Dr. Koichi Wakata, a Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut, will use the Olympus E-3 Digital SLR camera and ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses to photograph the Earth from the “Kibo” – the Japanese experimental module within the International Space Station (ISS).

The photographs will be posted on Olympus’ websites and shown at photo exhibitions. The wonderful images of the Earth taken from space will make people recognise the importance of our environment.

The next launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery will carry Dr. Wakata and his E-3 to the ISS.

The Olympus Space Project
In October 2009, the Olympus Corporation will celebrate its 90-year anniversary. The company initially specialised in microscopes and has continued to develop innovative technologies in imaging, medical and life sciences — with incredible optics being the common thread.  Improving peoples’ lives has been the cornerstone of Olympus’ history.

Today, companies are focusing on the environment.  Olympus has illustrated the importance of our environment through images that demonstrate the effects of global warming on the earth and its wildlife.  “Global Warming Witness – Mitsuaki Iwago” posted on Olympus’ website at http://www.olympus.co.jp/en/gww/, is one example of Olympus’ commitment to this worthy endeavour.  The “Olympus Space Project” will demonstrate the Earth’s irreplaceable beauty through breathtaking images captured from the space station.

The “Kibo” is the Japanese experiment module within the ISS, which was built and is operated by a consortium of 15 countries.  The “Kibo” is the first Japanese module designed for astronauts to live in.  JAXA astronaut Dr. Koichi Wakata will be the first Japanese astronaut to stay in space for an extended period of time.  While in the Kibo, he will take images of earth with the Olympus E-3 and ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses.  The Exposed Facility will be constructed on the Kibo module during this mission and this new facility will block the Kibo’s window, making the earth no longer visible from the Japanese module.  This stay will be the only opportunity to photograph the Earth’s beauty from this experiment module.  This project has materialised thanks to the commercial use of the “Kibo” offered by JAXA.  More information can be found at http://www.olympus-space-project.com/.

The Olympus E-3 Digital SLR Camera and ZUIKO DIGITAL Lenses

The E-3 is the flagship camera of the Olympus E-system, the digital single lens reflex (SLR) camera system.  Designed for professional and aspiring photographers, the E-3 provides amazing image quality and extremely durable reliability.  The splash and dust proof magnesium-alloy body survives the toughest shooting environments.  This mission represents the ultimate photographic opportunity where Dr. Wakata’s E-3 will prove its capabilities, delivering the absolute highest performance and highest level of reliability in the most extreme environment imaginable – use in space.

Based on the Four Thirds standard, the ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses are 100 percent digital for amazing image quality.  In the mission, two high grade Pro lens units will be used with the E-3 camera: ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, ED50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD.  The lenses are manufactured at Olympus’ TATSUNO plant by the most skillful master craftsmen and offer the highest image quality.  In addition to offering a wide optical range (wide angle to super telephoto), the pro lenses are also splash and dust proof for outstanding reliability in tough shooting environments.

The International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle

The ISS orbits approximately 400 kilometres above the Earth, at a speed of 90 minutes per orbit. It allows scientists to perform studies and experiments in space by taking advantage of special features unique to space.  It was built and is operated by a consortium of 15 countries – including the United States, Japan, Russia, Canada and 11 nations of the European Space Agency.

The Space Shuttle was developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States.  Three Space Shuttles (Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor) are launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in the United States.

The Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and JAXA Astronaut Koichi Wakata

“Kibo” will serve as a module of the ISS and is Japan’s first manned facility where astronauts can conduct experiments for an extended period of time.  “Kibo” was transported to the ISS on three separate Space Shuttle missions that began in March 2008.  Dr. Wakata is scheduled to stay on the ISS for approximately three months.  During his stay, the Exposed facility will be docked to complete the experiment module.

Dr. Wakata was born in 1963, in Saitama, Japan.  He joined Japan Airlines (JAL) in 1989.  In April 1992, Dr. Wakata was selected to be an astronaut candidate by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA).  After Mamoru Mohri, Chiaki Mukai, Takao Doi, Dr. Wakata became the fourth Japanese astronaut and in January 1996, he flew onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.  With the 2009 mission, Dr. Wakata will be the first Japanese astronaut to have flown on three missions and stayed on the ISS for an extended period of time.

Requirements of the equipment used in space
The International Space Station is in orbit around the Earth.  To create a safe facility for the astronauts to stay onboard for a lengthy time period, onboard equipment must pass numerous safety reviews.  For example, sharp edges are not permitted and materials must omit very little volatile gas.  All equipment must pass various inspections such as off-gas tests and pressure-reduction tests to earn certification from JAXA and NASA.  The Olympus E-3 and its system accessories passed all examinations with splendid results.

The weight of shuttle contents are minimised.  Therefore, the smaller size and reduced weight of the E-System products is beneficial in this area also.  The Olympus E-System is best suited for the space station thanks to its light weight, small size and highly reliable performance, especially in extreme environments.

Equipment of the Olympus Space Project
Digital SLR camera                Olympus E-3
Four Thirds compliant interchangeable lens unit
–       ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm F2.8-
–        ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD
Power Battery Holder             HLD-4
AA Size Battery Holder           AABH-1
Remote Control                      RM-1

About Olympus
Olympus Imaging Australia Pty Ltd is a subsidiary of Olympus Corporation, headquartered in Japan. Olympus Imaging Australia is responsible for the marketing and distribution of Olympus consumer products in Australia and through Olympus agents and dealers in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and the South Pacific region.

Olympus Imaging Australia encompasses a broad range of imaging products from digital and film cameras designed for photographers of all levels. Our mission is to deliver innovative products that fit into everyday lifestyles, enabling customers to explore their world. www.olympus.com.au.

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