MAY 02, 2016 8:09 AM PDT

Japan Abandons Attempts to Retrieve Hitomi Satellite

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Following some unimaginable drama last month where Japan’s Hitomi satellite went spiraling out of control in the middle of its orbit around the Earth, Japan’s space agency (JAXA) spend endless hours trying to regain control over the satellite and put it back into a state where it could resume operations.
 
Unfortunately, it looks as if there is no hope for regaining control of Hitomi. Despite having received a few signals from the satellite, Hitomi has stopped communicating with engineers completely.
 

Japan announces it will abandon its communication attempts with the Hitomi satellite.


"We concluded that the satellite is in a state in which its functions are not expected to recover," Saku Tsuneta of JAXA said in a statement on Thursday.
 
Even if the Hitomi satellite were under control again, it’s not expected that Japan would have the ability to put the satellite back into working condition. There may just be too much damage to use it. It’s thought that some of the solar arrays have already broken off of the satellite.
 
Hitomi was originally launched earlier this year for observing X-ray activity in space, a method that helps astronomers pinpoint black hole activity and observe them from a safe distance.
 
It wasn’t a cheap project either; BBC notes Hitomi was a $273,000,000 project, and as you can imagine, many are bummed about the loss of the satellite, which provided high hopes for space exploration for JAXA.
 
Japan will instead focus efforts on learning what it was that caused this chaotic event to happen in the first place. The knowledge will help Japan to learn why things happened the way they did and prevent it from happening again should a future satellite launch go up to replace Hitomi.
 
It’s a sad decision for JAXA, but hopefully valuable lessons will be learned that help with the reliability of future space missions like Hitomi.

Source: BBC, JAXA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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