Japanese satellite remains unreachable

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Tokyo, March 29 (IANS) Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced on Tuesday that its newly launched satellite Astro-H remains unreachable.

JAXA launched the satellite on February 17 into orbit about 575 km above the Earth. Nearly $300 million were spent to develop it, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The agency lost contact with the satellite on Saturday evening.

JAXA is trying to figure out what happened to it using a telescope on the ground.

The US military’s space agency, which monitors space debris, said it has confirmed several objects near the satellite, and that it may have broken up.

Japan’s Science Minister Hiroshi Hase on Tuesday said that he is concerned about the satellite’s condition, and that he has asked JAXA to do all it can to identify the problem and restore the satellite’s functions.

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The Astro-H, about 14 metres long and weighing 2.7 tonnes, is the heaviest satellite launched by Japan.

The device, manufactured by JAXA and NASA together with other institutions, aimed to orbit about 580 km high above the Earth to observe black holes and distant galaxy clusters through its gamma ray detectors and four x-ray telescopes, including the microcalorimetre X-ray, a latest generation instrument that has the highest spectrum to observe X-rays in space.

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