Japan won’t be salvaging its Hitomi spacecraft from the depths of outer space. It was supposed to detect black holes yet it broke down just two months into its journey.
Japan’s space agency seems to have given up on rescuing its Hitomi spacecraft. This “failure of an X-ray astronomy spacecraft” simply went astray and then broke down while in outer space.
Thus the $400 million project went defunct just 60 days after its inception. What a shame! Ground control lost contact with Hitomi after some altitude control failures. The spacecraft shed some very important parts of its solar panels thereby making it useless for all purposes.
The Hitomi spacecraft is also known as Astro-H. JAXA (the official Japanese space agency) received information regarding the separation of the solar array paddles which rendered the spacecraft out of order.
Now though JAXA has finally given up on trying to fix the spacecraft. It will be so much debris in the context of space. It had been designed to last three years. Yet it barely survived for two months.
The function for which this spacecraft was built was the observation of black holes and galaxy clusters. These are some of the biggest phenomena in the known universe.
The exact reason behind the spacecraft’s failure will be determined shortly. The design, construction, inspection and operations surrounding it will all be taken into account.
The anomaly that led to this breakdown in function will be explored in further detail. It was a flagship X-ray astronomy project that could have extended our knowledge of black holes by a quantum leap.
Yet that is the tragedy of this situation that nothing became of it. The Hitomi spacecraft held a plethora of super-sensitive instruments which could detect the slightest radiation.
The rays of energy coming from supernovae and other space phenomena would easily have been picked up by Hitomi had it not broken down before its time.
NASA had hooked up with Japan to spend some cold hard cash on this front. Yet it proved to be a dud. Finally, with Hitomi, the Japanese astronomers were hopeful that their dreams would come true.
Yet their dreams have been shattered beyond repair. Now it will be some time before a similar mission will take to the empyrean heights.
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This time around JAXA will be careful lest history repeat itself. Space is a harsh and formidable environment and most missions (manned or unmanned) that go take all the necessary precautions lest something go wrong.