Yokogawa Electric CSU-W1 Confocal Scanner Unit arrives at International Space Station

June 9, 2020

Yokogawa Electric Corp. announced that a Yokogawa CSU-W1 confocal scanner unit has arrived at the International Space Station (ISS). This CSU-W1 is a core component of Chiyoda Corp.'s COSMIC confocal microscope system, which will be installed in "KIBO," the ISS' Japanese Experiment Module, and is expected to start being used in life science experiments this fall. The system was transported to the ISS by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) "KOUNOTORI" H-II transfer vehicle, which arrived at the ISS on May 26.

The ISS orbits the Earth at an altitude of 400 km and is the largest space station to be built to date. With its micro-g (near zero gravity) environment, exposure to cosmic radiation and location in the near airless environment of outer space, the ISS is an ideal platform for the observation of the Earth and the cosmos and the conduct of experiments that are advancing scientific knowledge and developing new technologies that can improve people's lives and contribute to industry back on Earth. KIBO is Japan's first manned space test facility and is the largest experimental module on the ISS. COSMIC enables advanced live cell imaging in an actual micro-g environment, which is not possible on the Earth. This is expected to help develop basic life science and medical treatment using cells.

When combined with a microscope, the CSU-W1 enables real-time observation of the movement of proteins and physiological responses within living cells. It is used all over the world in fields such as biology, medicine, pharmacology, agriculture and drug discovery to perform cellular research. More than 3,000 CSU series devices have been sold to date and they have become ideal tools in the life science field. In preparation for the planned commencement this fall of life science experiments aboard the KIBO module, Yokogawa worked with Chiyoda Corporation and JAXA to assist from the planning phase in development of the COSMIC system. The system will be used in research involving the 3-D biofabrication of human organs in a micro-g environment.

Hiroshi Nakao, a Yokogawa vice president and head of the company's Life Innovation Business Headquarters, says: "We are proud to have been able to cooperate with Chiyoda Corp. in the development of the COSMIC system for JAXA, operators of the KIBO module. In keeping with its announcement of sustainability targets (the "Three goals") for the year 2050, Yokogawa is working to promote well-being. Encouraged by the use of the CSU-W1 for life science experiments in space that will produce benefits in a wide variety of applications, we will continue working to create value with our customers and contribute to the development of the life science field."