The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is struggling to understand exactly what went wrong with their completely new astronomical satellite, Hitomi, who suffered from some kind of malfunction at the weekend and apparently broke down in space. This is seen in a video shot by an amateur astronomer.
JAXA officials lost regular contact with Hitomi on Saturday (March 26), but the space agency received two mysterious signals from the spacecraft yesterday. This was reported by officials when updating the status today (March 29). The announcement said that two objects near the satellite orbit were detected by radar observations.
Amateur astronomers and satellite trackers (trackers), meanwhile, monitor the plight of Hitomi using ground-based telescopes. One video made by Paul Maley in Arizona shows that the brightness of the satellite, then increases, then decreases as the unit moves through the sky. Maley told National Geographic magazine employee Nade Drake that his video, which first appeared on Drake’s blog on NatGeo No Place Like Home (Long-awaited Return), suggests that the satellite is tumbling in space.
“Since Hitomi’s orbit is fairly stable, it can be traced relatively easily. In fact, if the sky clears up, I will try to shoot an additional video today, ”Maley told Space.com in an email today, adding that he will observe any changes in his rotation. - Until now, it remains unchanged at a level of just over 10 seconds between large flashes. These peak flashes can reach +3 magnitude (or slightly darker than the North Star), but they are brief. There are a few more minor flashes between these main flashes, but the satellite also remains invisible during each main flash cycle. My video perfectly demonstrates this. ” According to the latest updates in JAXA, Hitomi’s satellite, launched in February, split into several parts around 10:42 am Eastern Time on March 26. JAXA detected two short flashes at 2, 5 hours from each other during the night of March 28-29, from the Santiago Tracking Station in Chile.
“JAXA was not able to figure out the state of its functionality, since the time frame for receiving signals was very short,” JAXA officials said in a statement.
The strategic command of the United States Space Operations Center (JSpOC) reported that on Sunday (March 27), they discovered five debris associated with the satellite. Then amateur observers like Malei noted flashes of light coming from the satellite at regular intervals and suggested that the airborne apparatus was rotating.
Personal radar JAXA, in the space patrol Bisei station, found two objects near the original satellite orbit, and one of them was also noticed by the Japanese satellite of this station. The organization “continues to investigate the relationship between the information announced by the JSpOC and the communication anomaly,” officials said.
“JAXA will continue to do everything possible to reconnect with Hitomi and find out the cause of the anomaly that has occurred,” they added.
The Hitomi satellite, also known as ASTRO-H, was launched on February 17 to simultaneously monitor parts of the sky using X-ray and gamma-ray registers. The mechanism was 46 feet (14 meters) long when unfolded and weighed 6,000 pounds (2, 7 metric tons). It is designed to study the evolution and large-scale structure of the Universe, the distribution of dark matter, the study of how matter behaves in high gravitational regions like black holes and other high-energy phenomena, JAXA writes on its telescope site. The satellite was built in collaboration with NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.