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Can Japan Break The Space Curse?

Space junk satellite break up JAXA ASTRO-H Hitomi Astronomy Japan Japanese spaceflight Stuxnet malware

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#1 Soheil


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Posted 10 May 2016 - 03:16 AM

The Space Curse

28 March 2016

Starting from 1979 with Hakucho (CORSA-B ), for nearly two decades Japan had achieved continuous observation with its Hinotori, Tenma, Ginga and ASCA (ASTRO-A through D) x-ray observation satellites. However, in the year 2000 the launch of Japan's fifth x-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-E failed (as it failed at launch it never received a proper name).

Then on 10 July 2005, JAXA was finally able to launch a new X-ray astronomy mission named Suzaku (ASTRO-EII). This launch was important for JAXA, because in the five years since the launch failure of the original ASTRO-E satellite, Japan was without an x-ray telescope. Three instruments were included in this satellite: an X-ray spectrometer (XRS), an X-ray imaging spectrometer (XIS), and a hard X-ray detector (HXD). However, the XRS was rendered inoperable due to a malfunction which caused the satellite to lose its supply of liquid helium.

The next JAXA x-ray mission is the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI). MAXI continuously monitors astronomical X-ray objects over a broad energy band (0.5 to 30 keV). MAXI is installed on the Japanese external module of the ISS. On 17 February 2016, Hitomi (ASTRO-H) was launched as the successor to Suzaku, which completed its mission a year before.


Japan's X-ray Astronomy Satellite Hitomi (ASTRO-H) Caught Exploding In Outer Space

27 Mar 2016

ASTRO H(41337) @~08:20z, 26Mar5 pieces [of space debris spotted]


Sun, 27 Mar 2016

The Hitomi x-ray astronomy satellite is reliably reported to have changed orbit, lost communications, and generated 5 debris objects. Suspicion of cryo enclosure breach or another explosion.



JAXA says communication link with X-ray astronomy satellite has been lost

27 March 2016

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said Sunday it has experienced trouble communicating with a newly launched X-ray astronomy satellite since Saturday afternoon, making it difficult for the agency to ascertain its condition.

The Hitomi satellite, which was called the Astro-H until its successful launch on a Japanese rocket in mid-February, could be experiencing a power shortage after an unexpected shift in its position may have rendered it unable to draw on solar power, it said.

The satellite is supposed to be orbiting about 580 km (360 miles) above the Earths surface, but JAXA said the satellite may also have deviated from its intended path.

The agency is trying to re-establish communications with the satellite, but if the situation persists, it will be unable to start astronomy observations, scheduled to begin during the summer. The agency was calibrating equipment on the satellite when it ran into problems.

We are taking this situation very seriously, Saku Tsuneta, director of the agencys Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, said at a news conference, adding that he does not know at this point whether a communication link can be re-established.

The Hitomi, jointly developed by JAXA, NASA and other concerns, is a space observatory instrument equipped with four X-ray telescopes and two gamma-ray detectors.

Scientists hope data obtained from the satellite will shed light on the mysteries surrounding the evolution of the universe and of black holes, which are difficult to observe directly because they emit no light.

The satellite was launched on Feb. 17 on an H-2A rocket from a space center in Kagoshima Prefecture.





17 Feb 2016


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#2 Soheil


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Posted 10 May 2016 - 03:18 AM

1# Soheil

JAXA Satellite's Out-Of-Control Tumble Captured By Amateur Astronomer

Published on Mar 29, 2016

Paul Maley captured the Hitomi spacecraft in distress while orbiting the Earth. The video shows the spacecraft flashing light back towards Earth, revealing the tumble. If the satellite was in a stable orbit its light magnitude would remain constant.


29 Mar 2016

Brad estimated that Hitomi's magnitude varied between invisible and +4. He counted 7 flashes over a period of 70.5 s +/-
0.5 s, which yields a flash period (interval between flashes) of 11.75 s. Assuming rotational symmetry of order 2,
Hitomi's period of rotation was 23.5 s (disregarding synodic effect).


29 Mar 2016

It broke up, but it's still communicating? How does that work?

A few pieces flaked off. It's still mostly in one piece. Obviously the bits that came off were not fatal.


29 March 2016

I can confirm that we have ruled out a collision as the cause of the debris event, wrote U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas Mercurio, a spokesperson for the militarys Joint Functional Component Command for Space at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Mercurio said modeling and analysis by the commands experts, akin to rewinding the tape, led officials to conclude the Hitomi satellite did not collide with another object prior to the appearance of the debris.

The U.S. militarys tracking radars have detected at least five objects in the vicinity of the Hitomi satellite, which launched 17 Feb. 17 and was about halfway through a three-month calibration of its X-ray instruments when trouble struck Saturday.

The militarys Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC, has pinpointed the time of Hitomis breakup at around 0142 GMT Sunday, plus or minus 11 minutes.

Since then, Japanese engineers have been unable to get a stable communications lock on the satellite.

In an update posted online Tuesday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said its ground control team received two brief signals from Hitomi through the Uchinoura ground station in Japan and an antenna near Santiago, Chile, late Monday and early Tuesday.

While the short blips from Hitomi show the satellite is still alive, Japanese engineers do not know what caused the craft to lose control. With an external cause now ruled out, a fuel or gas leak, a burst battery, or some other explosive event inside the satellite is the likely culprit.


1 Apr 2016

10 pieces from Astro-H break-up is posted on @SpaceTrackOrg.
41337 was amended to match the largest piece. The former 41337 is now 41442.


Japanese Spacecraft After Suffering An Explosion

Taken by PAUL D. MALEY on April 3, 2016 @ Carefree, Arizona


This is one of the larger fragments of the ASTRO-H mission that apparently has suffered an explosion causing the spacecraft to break up into a number of pieces. This image (with Orions Belt and the Orion Nebula in the background) shows 9 flashes from one of the larger objects with the time between flashes 0.77 seconds. The objects was about 900km from my camera at the time of the photo.


Edited by Soheil, 10 May 2016 - 03:21 AM.

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#3 Soheil


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Posted 10 May 2016 - 03:22 AM

1# Soheil

After The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, Another Epochal Made In Japan Failure
@JAXA: Buy Made In China Next Time!

Software Update Destroys $286 Million Japanese Satellite

May 2, 2016

The Japanese X-ray telescope Hitomi has been declared lost after it disintegrated in orbit, torn apart when spinning out of control. The cause is still under investigation but early analysis points to bad data in a software package pushed shortly after an instrument probe was extended from the rear of the satellite. JAXA, the Japanese space agency, lost $286 million, three years of planned observations, and a possible additional 10 years of science research.

Hitomi, also known as ASTRO-H, successfully launched on February 17, 2016 but on March 26th catastrophe struck, leaving only pieces floating in space. JAXA, desperately worked to recover the satellite not knowing the extent of the failure. On April 28th they discontinued their efforts and are now working to determine the reasons for the failure, although a few weeks ago they did provide an analysis of the failure sequence at a press conference.

On March 26th, the satellite completed a maneuver to point at the galaxy Markarian 205. The Attitude Control System (ACS) began using the Star Tracking (STT) system data to control the position of the satellite. The STT at this point should have updated another position monitoring system, the Inertial Reference Unit (IRU). This may not have occurred.

At the time, the satellite was passing the South Atlantic Anomaly. This is important for two reasons. First, it placed Hitomi in a communications blackout region which meant there was no active ground monitoring of the situation (human intervention might have prevented the catastrophic failure). Second, the belts of radiation encircling the Earth dip low in this region so particle density is higher than in other parts of the orbit. High energy particles may have disrupted the onboard electronics.

The STT and IRU disagreed on the attitude of the satellite. In this case the IRU takes priority, but its data apparently was wrong, reporting a rotation rate of 20 degrees per hour, which was not occurring. The satellite attempted to stop this erroneous rotation using reaction wheels. The satellite configuration information uploaded earlier was wrong and the reaction wheels made the spin worse.

The satellite now went into Safe Hold mode and thrusters were called upon to stop the rotation. Using the same erroneous configuration information they increased the spin further causing the satellites rotation to exceed design parameters. Parts, like the solar sails, came off. In all, at least 5 pieces were observed in addition to the main body. Some reports indicate there may be as many as 10 pieces with 2 larger and 8 smaller pieces continuing in orbit. Its likely that all ten pieces separated originally but their close proximity prevented visual and radar images from seeing them as separate entities.

In satellites, the STT typically gets a good fix and sends the data to the IRU. The IRU uses the data to set its current reading and to measure how far it drifted since the last update. After calculating the drift it uses drift adjustments to compensate for the future drift. Clearly if the compensation calculation is wrong the future readings are going to be wrong. This appears to have played a role since the ACS attempted to correct a rotation that didnt exist. The erroneous configuration information led the ACS to aggravate, not correct, the rotation.

The hardware was built to study hard X-ray sources in the Universe. X-ray satellites like the Hitomi are not hindered by dust clouds that obscure visual instruments. Previous satellites have greatly expanded our knowledge of the Universe, with Japan as the leader in the technology.

Japans first successful X-ray satellite, Hakucho, was launched in 1979. Other successful launches followed in 83, 87, and 93. Launches in 76 and 2000 failed. Their most recent X-ray satellite, Suzaka, launched in 2005, was just decommissioned in 2015 due to deterioration of batteries and other components. It was hoped that Hitomi would see similar utility but that hope has now been extinguished.


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#4 Soheil


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Posted 10 May 2016 - 03:28 AM

1# Soheil

The satellite attempted to stop this erroneous rotation using reaction wheels. The satellite configuration information uploaded earlier was wrong and the reaction wheels made the spin worse.

Self-Defeating Malware

Stuxnet Launched By United States And Israel


White House officials confirmed that the Stuxnet virus was a joint project between the two countries, designed to set back Iran's ability to create weapons-grade uranium.
The pioneering Stuxnet virus that attacked Iran was built just as many security experts had predicted: In a joint effort by the governments of the United States and Israel.

Those revelations surfaced Friday in The New York Times, in a story written by David Sanger, who had been conducting research for his forthcoming book, Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power.

"This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European, and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts," reported Sanger. "None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day."

Officials said that Stuxnet was developed as part of a classified program codenamed "Olympic Games," which was begun under President Bush, and which Obama ordered to be accelerated. As part of that program, malware was developed to first create a blueprint of an Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz. As fears of Israel launching an airstrike against Iranian facilities increased, the administration opted to make Israel part of the Olympic Games program. The Israelis worked with the National Security Agency to design Stuxnet, which was introduced into the Natanz facility via USB drives by spies and unwitting employees.

But in 2010, reported Sanger, an error in the code led to the virus spreading outside of the Natanz facility, at which point it began infecting PCs worldwide.

Stuxnet broke new malware ground because the complex application was designed for the sole purpose of sabotaging the high-frequency convertor drives used by the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. That made it the first known virus to disable physical equipment. The virus managed to disable 1,000 of the 5,000 such drives Iran had in use at the time, delaying its uranium-enrichment program by 18 months to 2 years, according to internal Obama administration estimates. Outside experts, however, believed the resulting delays to be less substantial.

Security experts, of course, are now trying to unravel the mysteries of the Flame malware. The espionage and information-gathering virus, first detailed publicly on Monday, has predominantly been aimed at targets in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

In the wake of the Stuxnet revelations, the next logical question is: Did the U.S. government also commission Flame?

U.S. officials told Sanger that Flame was not part of the Olympic Games program, although they declined to comment on whether the malware had been built by the United States. But based on code reviews, security experts already believe that Flame was commissioned by whomever ordered Stuxnet, although it was apparently built by a different group of developers.

Why are the revelations over who commissioned the Stuxnet program coming to light now, given that the virus was discovered back in June 2010? "Obama wanted to get credit for Stuxnet as that makes him look tough against Iran. And he needs that as Presidential elections are coming," tweeted Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure.

Furthermore, Stuxnet has arguably already served its purpose. "Stuxnet is old news. Even the recently discovered (and much hyped) Flame malware isn't an effective weapon today," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, in a blog post.

But for every Stuxnet, Flame, or Duqu, how many other pieces of espionage malware are now in circulation? "There seems little doubt that state-sponsored cyber-weapons (if that is indeed what Stuxnet was) continue to be developed--and chances are that it's not just the U.S.A. and Israel who are developing them, but other developed countries," Cluley said.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Space junk, satellite break up, JAXA, ASTRO-H, Hitomi, Astronomy, Japan, Japanese spaceflight, Stuxnet, malware

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