ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Science

Japan's X-ray satellite down for the count

TOKYO -- The Astro-H X-ray satellite has become inoperative since arriving in Earth orbit in February, potentially stalling some astronomy research until 2028.

     Transmissions from the satellite, developed jointly by Japan, the U.S. and Europe, failed to begin as planned March 26. The satellite, also called Hitomi, has been mostly quiet since.

     Visual observations from the University of Tokyo and other organizations show the device rotating once every five seconds or so, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said Friday. But the satellite is supposed to remain mostly still under ordinary circumstances.

     The rotation may have separated solar cells and other equipment from the main body, the agency said, potentially impairing the satellite's functioning even if communication can be re-established. Hitomi's attitude control system, sensors and software are being investigated as causes.

     JAXA launched the satellite in mid-February at the cost of 31 billion yen ($286 million). Hitomi is designed to make precise observations of X-rays from phenomena such as a black hole or supernova in order to advance understanding of the nature of the universe and our galaxy. The two other X-ray satellites in orbit are past their planned operational lives, and the next one is to be launched from Europe in 2028. Failure to recover Hitomi could create an observational gap sometime between now and then.

(Nikkei)

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more