Update on JAXA’s ATRO-H Satellite

ASTRO-H satellite (Credit: JAXA)
ASTRO-H satellite (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — 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.