JAXA - ASTRO-H / X-Ray Observatory logo.
Mar. 29, 2016
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) found that communication with the X-ray Astronomy Satellite “Hitomi” (ASTRO-H), launched on February 17, 2016 (JST), failed from the start of its operation originally scheduled at 16:40, Saturday March 26 (JST). Up to now, JAXA has not been able to figure out the state of health of the satellite.
While the cause of communication anomaly is under investigation, JAXA received short signal from the satellite, and is working for recovery.
Under this circumstance, JAXA set up emergency headquarters, headed by the President, for recovery and investigation. The headquarters held its first meeting today, and has been working for recovery and the investigation of the cause.
Artist's view of ASTRO-H X-Ray Observatory. Image Credit: JAXA
Current Status of Communication Anomaly of X-ray Astronomy Satellite “Hitomi” (ASTRO-H)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been trying to communicate with the X-ray Astronomy Satellite “Hitomi” (ASTRO-H), using ground stations both in Japan and overseas.
By utilizing two opportunities of communicating with Hitomi, JAXA received signals from the satellite: the first time was at about 10:00 p.m. on 28 at the Uchinoura Ground Station, and the second one was at around 0:30 a.m. on 29 at the Santiago Tracking Station in Chile. JAXA has not been able to figure out the state of its health, as the time frames for receiving the signals were very short.
According to the U.S. Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), it is estimated that Hitomi separated to five pieces at about 10:42 a.m. In order to investigate the situation, JAXA is observing the objects, using a radar located at the Kamisaibara Space Guard Center (KSGC) and telescopes at the Bisei Space Guard Center (BSGC) owned by the Japan Space Forum. Up to now, the telescopes at BSGC detected two objects around the satellite’s original orbit, while the radar at KSGC identified one of them. It is confirmed that the signal received at the Santiago Tracking Station came from the orbital direction of the object identified at KSGC.
JAXA continues to investigate the relationship between the information announced by JSpOC and the communication anomaly.
JAXA will continue to do its best to recover communications with Hitomi and investigate the cause of the anomaly.
X-ray Astronomy Satellite "Hitomi" (ASTRO-H): http://global.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/astro_h/
Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: National Research and Development Agency/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).