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February 15-21, 2016 / Vol 35, No 7 / Hawai`i Island, USA

12 Feb 2016, 21:10 UTC
February 15-21, 2016 / Vol 35, No 7 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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Japan Space Astronomy and 21st Century Exploration Advancing

Launch of Astro-H Astronomy Satellite from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan aboard the 30th H-2A rocket is indicative of a greater expansion of Astronomy into Space, both with satellites and lunar missions. Initial countdown toward Feb 12 launch is scrubbed due to inclement weather, next available window to be announced. Reaching its designated orbit at 575-km altitude to begin conducting X-ray and gamma-ray observations of some of the most powerful phenomena in the Universe, it will become known by an as-of-yet unannounced new official name. The primary objective is to explore the structure and evolution of the Universe by studying objects such as supernova explosions, supermassive black holes, and galaxy clusters. One stated goal is to elucidate dark matter and dark energy. The project is lead by JAXA and includes participation of more than 200 researchers at 70 contributing institutions in Japan, the USA, Canada, and Europe. The Astro-H space observatory is 10-100 times more sensitive than its predecessor, 14 meters in length when fully extended and with a mass of 2,400 kg is the heaviest of 8 total that Japan has developed (only seven launched; Astro-G was cancelled). Japan seems to specialize ...

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