Japan Abandons Search For Hitomi Satellite Lost In Space
Japan has given up efforts to retrieve a multi-million dollar x-ray satellite that went missing a month after it was first launched.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that it will abandon all attempts to re-establish communications with its ASRTO-H telescope, known as Hitomi, writes Nature World News.
"JAXA expresses the deepest regret for the fact that we had to discontinue the operations of ASTRO-H and extends our most sincere apologies to everyone who has supported ASTRO-H believing in the excellent results ASTRO-H would bring, to all overseas and domestic partners including NASA, and to all foreign and Japanese astrophysicists who were planning to use the observational results from ASTRO-H for their studies." JAXA said in a statement.
The Hitomi telescope was a joint venture involving 70 different organizations, including US space agency, NASA. The project involved multi-million dollar investments from its partners, including $290 million from Japan and about $70 million from NASA.
According to a report from Phys.Org, the telescope was launched into orbit on February 17. Hitomi's primary mission was to look for X-rays originating from black holes and cluster galaxies. Operations aboard the satellite were normal until March 26 when all communications between the satellite and Earth were cut off.
JAXA experts worked to restore contact with the telescope with promising signs. Technicians were hopeful after picking up three signals coming from space - however, the frequency showed that the signal had originated elsewhere.
JAXA decided to give up efforts to communicate with the satellite after receiving reports that two solar array paddles had been ripped off the Hitomi - leaving the satellite to float through space.
As retrieval operations have now ceased, JAXA is now focusing on determining what happened to the satellite and what went wrong, systematically reviewing the design phases as well as manufacturing, verification and operation processes to ensure this does not occur in future.
The European Space Agency has plans to launch a similar satellite to Hitomi in 2028.
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