I just finished reading the Japanese hard science fiction novel Ouroboros Wave. In the afterword, the author writes the following. For context, the book goes into quite a large amount of detail of the regolith of comets and other small bodies (in-world). It was also published in 2002, although the date of the English translation on my book is 2010.

In closing, I would like to thank Atsushi Noda, Naru Hirata, Masao Hirota, Tomohiro Araki, Jun Fukue, and Masahiro Maeno, as well as the members of the Minor Body Exploration Forum (http://www.as-exploration.com/mef/index.html), for their invaluable suggestions and guidance. I would also like to thank the members of the Osaka Chapter of the Space Authors Club, espcially Housuke Nojiri and Yasumi Kobayashi, for many stimulating discussions.

Given the time frames involved, it's somewhat unsurprising that the link doesn't work anymore. The archived version isn't very helpful as to a simple "about" description, although it makes me think that it is primarily a Japanese organization.

What did this organization do, and does is it still operating?

  • $\begingroup$ some points to consider about the Japanese language when trying to interpret auto translators: - Hayabusa means "Falcon", hence the seemingly misplaced "falcon" in the translation. - Japanese usually omits pronouns (I, you, me, it, us, etc.) so the auto-translator tries to guess and fills in the blank. So, in the translation above, "I" probably means "It", referring to Hayabusa, JAXA, or ISAS. - Questions are often posed in the negative.The title ("In your hand, do not send out spacecraft to the home of the Little Prince?") should have been translated to "Wouldn't you like to release as spacec $\endgroup$ – 550AU Aug 18 '17 at 3:11

According to Google Translate version of The Wayback Machine cached copy of the now expired domain:

"Small bodies exploration Forum" is a group that joins us from various positions for the next small bodies exploration of "Hayabusa" mission, followed by the public debate by using the Internet, etc.. In this site, I would like to introduce appropriate ones can be exposed from those discussed in the group, and we have been featured information various other related to solar system exploration further.

"Small bodies exploration Forum Official page" is ::: Www.Minorbody.Com/ is :::.

OK, the machine translation is slightly awkward, as expected, but the clue is there, the new location of this same web forum is: www.minorbody.com. Of course, that again lands us on a Japanese language only website, but at least it is still maintained. Well, kind of. Translating it, it reads as a referral website advertising pregnancy and ovulation test products. LOL. I'm not sure if it's some form of web domain hijacking, or also the newer domain registration expired, but it certainly doesn't have anything to do with where we started at.

So the initial description is so far all we have. It is web forum for what basically says on the box:

A community of people of various professions interested in the (then) next minor body exploration mission of the JAXA's Hayabusa spacecraft (JAXA Hayabusa page in Japanese).

This group is, according to its bulletin board, still active in the minorbody Yahoo Japan group. Translating its front page post, I got this:

Small bodies exploration forum (Minor Body Exploration Forum: MEF)

 Description of the group:

In your hand, do not send out spacecraft to the home of The Little Prince?

Hayabusa spacecraft JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) was launched in May 2003 , was brought back to earth a dazzling return capsule in June 2010 . This group , that for small bodies exploration of Japan following the falcon, to solicit ideas from all over the country , and to consider the feasibility and engineering approaches scientific significance , to create a powerful mission candidate of scale that can be conducted by JAXA / ISAS it is a volunteer organization for the purpose .

Since its inception in May 2000 , I looked at the exploration plan of seven . In the Science Council of Japan and overseas , including the Space Science Symposium of four times since 2001 , and has been announced the examination result of integration plan to achieve it and Science aim is next small bodies exploration . Issue a final version in January " MEF report " Preliminary , '04 , was distributed at the HP and the release on to the end of 2002 . Held a " small bodies exploration WG " application launched preparatory meeting immediately after , it was submitted to JAXA / ISAS Space Science Committee in March , launched a petition that a starting point the same report . Result of deliberation , " small bodies exploration WG " establishment is approved , the purpose of the establishment of the MEF was achieved .

So apparently, the purpose of this group was expanded to include planning of future candidate JAXA / ISAS missions to minor celestial bodies, and collect and promote ideas from all over Japan. It was also upgraded to a status of a volunteer based organization, and attends space exploration symposiums and some of its members might have a say in the Science Council of Japan? Don't know, this machine translation is somewhat hard to read.

The translation later reads as this group being open to members of any nations, but the language used therein is Japanese. Right. I really need find the time to learn Japanese someday, they seem to do pretty cool stuff as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Yahoo! group links to minorbody.org, perhaps this is the real deal? $\endgroup$ – AlanSE Oct 8 '13 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AlanSE - Oh, interesting! It looks like that could also be one of their sites. This is a Google Translate version of its about page, but the machine translation of the Yahoo group says for the text next to the link: "Public site - small bodies exploration forum open to the public page". So I believe these are two parallel websites / groups, one more public than the other? I just don't know, I guess it would be the easiest to have someone that speaks Japanese have a look at it. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Oct 8 '13 at 18:16

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