Masato Nakamura

Project Manager of AKATSUKI Mission, Institute of Space & Astronautical Science (ISAS/JAXA)

    Masato Nakamura is project manager of the Japanese Venus orbiter project (AKATSUKI) which was launched in 2010. AKATSUKI aims at understanding the atmospheric circulation of Venus, and establish the planetary meteorology.


Nakamura developed the time of flight (TOF) experiment device which used ion beams for electric field measurement in space. His sounding rocket experiment on S-510-9 was the first TOF electric field measurement in the ionosphere/magnetosphere in the world. Thus he is a pioneer of the digital electric field measurement method of the world. Later he designed the electric field detector system (EFD) on Geotail. Many scientists accomplished work to receive high acclaim with Nakamura's measurement device. He himself analyzed the electric field data and particle data from Geotail, and especially on the events of the Pc5 ULF waves, reconnection at the dayside magnetopause. He received NASA group achievement award on his contribution to the magnetospheric science in 1994, as well as ESA award in 2003 on his contribution to Cluster mission.

He designed the eXtreme Ultra-Violet scanner (XUV) on Planet-B Mars orbiter which was launched in 1998. He succeeded in taking the first EUV snap shot of the terrestrial plasmasphere in the world, thus he is considered as a pioneer of EUV imaging of the planetary plasma.

He became the principal investigator of PLANET-C (AKATSUKI) Venus orbiter in 2004. This mission is planed to investigate the Venusian climate system, which is totally different from that on the earth. This spacecraft was successfully launched from Tanegashima Space Center in May 2010. Unfortunately the first trial of Venus orbit insertion in December 2010 was unsuccessful, and he is waiting for the next opportunity expected in 2015.

He received Tanakadate medal from the Society of Geomagnetism and Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences on his work "The study of plasma transport in the terrestrial magnetosphere" in 2002.

He started teaching graduate school student since 1993. Eight graduate students of his school received doctor of science degree from the University of Tokyo, and more than 20 students received MS degree from the University of Tokyo.


  • Received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysics from University of Tokyo in 1982.
  • Received a Master of Science degree in Geophysics from University of Tokyo in 1984.
  • Received a Doctor of science degree in Geohysics from University of Tokyo in 1987.


    Electric Field Measurement in the Ionosphere using the Time of Flight Technique of Lithium Ion Beam

    Professional Experience

    1987-1990 Physicist at Max-Planck-Institut fuer Physik und Astrophysik, Institut fuer extraterrestrische Physik
    1990-1993 Research assistant, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS)
    1993-2002 Associate professor. the University of Tokyo
    2002- Professor, ISAS (2002- )
    2005- Director of Basic Space Science Division, ISAS/JAXA
    2010- Research Director, ISAS/JAXA

    2001-2006 Secretary of steering committee of Space Science, ISAS/JAXA
    2001-2006 Member of Steering committee, Society of Geomagnetism and Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences
    2005-2007 Secretary of magnetospheric physics, Asia Oceania Geosciences Society
    2005-2008 Secretary general of Japan Geoscience Union
    2007-2010 Chair of Steering committee for Space Science, ISAS/JAXA
    2007-2010 Councilor, Society of Geomagnetism and Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences
    2007- Member of steering committee of space engineering
    2008- Academician, International Academy of Astronautics
    2010- Director, Japan Geoscience Union
    2011- Vice president of Society of Geomagnetism and Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences
    2007- Associate councilor, the Sciece Council of Japan

    1990- Project scientist aid of Geotail spacecraft
    1992-2005 Principle Investigator of Extreme Ultra Violet Imager on Planet-B
    1996-2006 Principle Investigator of Upper Atmosphere and Plasma Imager of SELENE
    2003- Project manager of Venus exploration project AKATSUKI