The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hitomi X-ray observatory, also called ASTRO-H, launched into on Feb. 17, 2016 on a mission to study black holes, star explosions and other objects in deep space.
Japanese Astronomy Satellite Hitomi Malfunctions, Generates Debris
The $273 million Hitomi mission suffered a major blow on March 26, 2016, when Hitomi stopped communicating with its operations center.
Ground tracking shows Hitomi broke into several sections before March 26. Radio contact with the probe was lost on that date.
Hitomi was intended to occupy Earth orbit at an altitude of 357 miles (575 kilometers), inclined 31 degrees to the equator. It completes one orbit every 96 minutes, maintaining its attitude toward the target for continuous observations lasting up to several days. Hitomi's four telescopes and two gamma-ray detectors all face the same direction, and were designed for simultaneous observations.
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