JAXA’s space research satellite Hitomi

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced yesterday that it has lost all contacts with the space research satellite ASTRO-H also called Hitomi and that it will cease further efforts to retrieve or restore the satellite.

Hitomi was launched into the orbit on February 17, 2016. Its primary objective was to gather information on black holes by studying X-rays emitted by black holes and other heavenly objects in space.

The satellite went haywire and JAXA lost its control after barely a month of its launch. Scientists believed that the satellite had suffered a minor setback after receiving a few signals from it.

JAXA also announced that the signals it received were not from the satellite and were in fact intercepted radio interferences.

On March 26, all controls and contacts were lost with Hitomi. It was observed that the satellite was spiralling wildly in the orbit with a few debris around it.

JAXA announced yesterday that it will cease all the efforts in the direction of retrieving the lost satellite. Though, they finally figured out the cause of ruination of the $290 million satellite. A spokesperson at JAXA stated that two solar panels of the satellite came off their base resulting into the loss of control of the satellite as well as loss of power source as well.

The next satellite with a similar exploration mission will not be launched any time before 2028. ASTRO-H was a conjoint venture of several countries with JAXA including NASA and Canada. It is believed that NASA had invested $70 million in the project.

Hitomi was one of the largest satellites Japan had ever produced. It weighed 2.7 tons and was 46 feet in length. It was designed to study X-rays emitted from black holes in order to solve the mysteries of this supergravity anomaly.