On Wednesday, Japan has launched a new H-IIA rocket into space from the country’s Tanegashima Space Center, which was carrying the Astro-H X-ray observation satellite.
This new space instrument will be used by not only Japan, but also by other space agencies that have partnered with JAXA, including NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and others.
Observations with the new satellite equipment are expected to begin as Early as this Summer, but no sooner.
The Astro-H satellite is equipped with a grand total of four telescopes and six sensors, which give it the ability to detect difference forms of X-rays and gamma rays. Two of the telescopes are made for finding soft X-rays and gamma rays, while the other two are made for finding hard X-rays and gamma rays.
Filters that have been built into the satellite’s telescope and computer hardware will make difficult-to-observe X-rays and gamma rays that much easier to observe for scientists trying to make sense of our universe.
Astro-H is solar-powered, and 3.5-kilowatt solar panels will be responsible for keeping the satellite’s internal batteries charged.
The satellite is scheduled to stay in Low-Earth orbit for the next three years to be used. It successfully reached its orbit destination just minutes after the launch, and is currently orbiting Earth 580 kilometers from the planet’s surface.
It should be interesting to see what scientists are able to spot with this new hunk of tech floating just above our atmosphere.