Japan’s Astro-H X-Ray Observatory Goes Dark (Update – Breaks Up)

Astro-H Credit: JAXA

Credit: JAXA

Update: The U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center has indicated that Astro-H has broken up.

Original story:

The Japanese Space Agency, JAXA has lost communications with the Astro-H X-ray astronomy satellite. Also called “Hitomi,” the observatory was launched by an H-IIA rocket on February 17th.

See Related: Japan Launches Astro-H X-Ray Observatory “Hitomi”

On February 29th, mission controllers confirmed completion of a series of operational pre-checks with included activating the cooling system, which successfully reached an absolute temperature of 50 millidegrees, or minus 273.1 degrees Celsius.

Now however, that work may be in jeopardy. Astro-H was scheduled to switch to operational status on Saturday, March 26th at 16:40 JST, but other than sending one brief signal, has now gone dark, and it is not sending operational health reports.

JAXA has set up an emergency team which is working to re-establish communications.

Astro-H is a major international project, with collaboration from 8 nations, including the United States. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center developed the craft’s SXS detector and Soft X-ray Telescopes. It is also responsible for much of the data processing software including the Guest Observer Facility.


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