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