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Satnews Daily
March 28th, 2016

A Hiccup Develops For Hitomi (ASTRO-H)

[Satnews] The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has stated that communication with the X-ray Astronomy Satellite “Hitomi” (ASTRO-H), launched on February 17, 2016 (JST), failed from the start of its operation that was originally scheduled at 16:40, Saturday March 26 (JST_up until that time, JAXA had not been able todetermine the state of health of the satellite.

Artistic rendition of the nexgen Hitomi (ASTRO-H) satellite.

While the cause of communication failure 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. The headquarters has held their first meeting and has been working for recovery and the investigation of the cause. Updates will be announced as they become available at the JAXA website.

The nexgen X-ray observatory "Hitomi" (ASTRO-H) was developed from an international collaboration that includes Japan and NASA. The cutting edge instrument on board is the “X-ray micro-calorimeter,” which observes X-rays from space with the world’s greatest spectral capability. The other 3 detectors on board allow high sensitivity observations in a wide bandwidth spanning soft X-ray to the softest Gamma-ray. "Hitomi" (ASTRO-H) will apply these new functions to investigate the mechanisms of how galaxy clusters—the largest objects in space made of “visible matter”—formed and influenced by dark energy and dark matter, to reveal the formation and evolution of supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies, and to unearth the physical laws governing extreme conditions in neutron stars and black holes.