NASA is working to put human back on the moon by 2024, the idea being to use it as a way station for the eventual colonization of Mars. Since those humans won't want to moonwalk everywhere, they'll need new transportation — the battery-electric Lunar Rover the Apollo astronauts left up there probably won't start. Designers at the European Advanced Design Studio for Toyota and Lexus created a few potential, and yes, fanciful, craft for getting around our satellite for Document Journal magazine's The Lunar Design Portfolio. The artwork joins a collection of articles by culture critics, philosophers, architects, and more about the issues confronting humanity's return to the mistress of tides. Out of the seven concepts, the Lexus creation chosen to appear in the issue is Karl Dujardin's Zero Gravity, which turns the automaker's spindle grille into a single-seater moto-like hovercraft capable of doing 310 mph. The Bouncing Moon Roller by Julien Marie attaches a wheel-like stabilizer to a gyroscope cell protected by a flexible graphene nanotube bubble meant for hopping over the terrain, whereas the Lexus Lunar Cruiser by Keisuke Matsuno serves land and sky by having wheels that can flip out 90 degrees to serve as ducted fans powering a drone capsule. Jean-Baptiste Henry's Lexus Cosmos isn't for the surface at all, with a Lexus mothership and Moon Explorator capable of solar system travel. The glass construction of the observatory in the Moon Explorator allows "group experience contemplation [of] Zero G," and there's even a "space swimming pool." The Mothership awaits a role in the next installment of A Space Odyssey, a glossy habitat for whatever life forms succeed humans. Astronauts might be able to launch from the mothership in the Lexus Lunar Mission craft designed by Yung Presciutti, using wings shaped like spindle grilles. Because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy even in space, the Lexus Lunar is a 6x6 "massive transport vehicle designed to explore and discover the moon safely," meaning it can haul a few Moon Racers — both of which are also Presciutti's work — a different kind of single-seater craft made to "jump, climb, race, and discover" the light and dark sides of the moon.
TOKYO — Toyota and Japan's space agency said on Tuesday they had agreed to cooperate in developing a manned lunar rover that runs on fuel cell technologies. Although Japan has no plan currently to make a manned rocket that could send people into space, the rover could be a major contribution to an international space program in the future, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said. The rover "will be an important element supporting human lunar exploration, which we envision will take place in the 2030s," JAXA Vice President Koichi Wakata told a symposium in Tokyo. "We aim to launch such a rover into space in 2029." The rover is still in the conceptual stage, but an illustration in the news release showed a six-wheel vehicle that somewhat resembled an armored personnel carrier. A spokesman for Toyota, which plans to ramp up fuel-cell cars as a zero-emission alternative to gasoline vehicles, said the project would give the company a chance to test its technologies in the moon's harsh environment and improve them. Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi stressed the excitement that comes with taking part in a space project. "As an engineer, there is no greater joy than being able to participate in a lunar project by way of Toyota's car-making," Terashi told the symposium. "Being allowed to be a member of 'Team Japan,' we would like to take up the challenge of space."
Large crowds of tourists from mainland China and Taiwan have arrived at Kansai Airport in Osaka, western Japan, for the weeklong Lunar New Year holidays that began on Monday.
One of the visitors said she arrived from Shanghai with two family members and wants to enjoy skiing in Fukui Prefecture and sightseeing in Osaka and Kobe.
Tokyo Tower, an iconic landmark in the capital, has been illuminated in red as part of the efforts to welcome Chinese visitors to Japan during the Lunar New Year holiday.
An event to light up Tokyo Tower on the Lunar New Year's eve on Monday was organized by groups of Chinese residents and others in Japan. The red color is considered auspicious in China.