JAXA Current Affairs - 2019
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Japan’s space agency (JAXA) successfully launched a Kounotori 6 (HTV-6) spacecraft that will deliver a large magnetic tether, a space junk collector technology into orbit.
The spacecraft was launched on board of H-IIB rocket from Tanegashima Space Center. It was also carrying essential supplies for International Space Station (ISS).
- The space junk collector (electromagnetic tether) will perform Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiments (KITE) in order to test out new technology.
- It is an experimental space scavenger that aims to study possibility of getting rid of space junk (debris) left into orbit by earlier space exploration missions.
- It has been designed by JAXA engineers in collaboration with Nitto Seimo Co., a Japanese fishing net company.
- The space scavenger is large magnetic tether made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium. It is designed to redirect space junk towards Earth’s atmosphere.
- In theory, the net-like tether will generate enough slowing effect to influence the trajectory of space debris toward Earth’s atmosphere where they will burn up.
Why there is need of space junk collector technology?
More than 5 decades of human space exploration since the first Soviet-launched Sputnik satellite in 1957 has produced this hazardous belt of orbiting debris in the space. There are estimated to be more than 100 million pieces are circling our planet in the lower orbit, posing a growing threat to future space exploration. These pieces of debris travel at high speeds. A relatively small piece of orbital debris can inflict a great deal of damage on satellites or spacecrafts orbiting in the space. This phenomenon is Kessler Syndrome which describes a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris in low earth Orbit.
Japan has successfully launched ASTRO-H space observation satellite to probe mysterious black holes.
The satellite was launched by H2A rocket after it had successfully lifted off at the Tanegashima Space Centre.
- ASTRO-H satellite has been developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in cooperation with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and others.
- It will orbit earth at an altitude of about 580 kilometres and observe X-rays emanating mainly from black holes and galaxy clusters.
- It is cylindrically shaped and is 14 meters long and weighs 2.7 tonnes. It is the heaviest scientific satellite Japan has worked on. It will help unravel the mysteries of the universe.
- The satellite has been equipped with four X-ray telescopes and two gamma-ray detectors and is designed to capture X-rays that cannot be detected on Earth because the planet’s atmosphere absorbs them.