Students observe damaged Hitomi X-ray satellite and debris
by Staff Writers
Daytona Beach FL (SPX) Apr 20, 2016
Engineering Physics students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach Campus have made several high-cadence telescope observations of the recently damaged Hitomi X-ray satellite and several of its debris pieces.
Hitomi, also known as ASTRO-H, was a Japanese X-ray astronomy satellite that was launched in February. The $275 million spacecraft was 46 feet long when deployed and weighed 6,000 lbs. It carried a number of scientific instruments, including a unique device called an X-ray microcalorimeter that was intended to investigate the evolution and large-scale structure of the universe, dark matter distribution, how matter behaves in high-gravity areas like black holes, and other high-energy phenomena.
It experienced a catastrophic event on March 26 during its first test observations 360 miles above the Earth. The U.S. Joint Space Operations Center detected several fragments of debris in the area and Hitomi's orbit suddenly changed.
"As soon as we got news of the suspected breakup, we wanted to observe the fragments with OSCOM, an optical tracking and spectral characterization system capable of observing large and small space objects, to see for ourselves how chaotically they were tumbling," said Forrest Gasdia, an Embry-Riddle graduate student in Engineering Physics. "As soon as the skies were clear, Sergei Bilardi [Engineering Physics undergraduate] and I deployed a telescope for the observations."
"The Physical Sciences Department has an impressive array of telescope assets, including a 1-meter (40-inch) Ritchey-Chretien reflecting telescope, and OSCOM, which was seed funded by a National Science Foundation grant," said Dr. Aroh Barjatya, associate professor and program coordinator of the Engineering Physics program at the Daytona Beach Campus.
"All of these assets are readily available for our students majoring in Engineering Physics, which has a strong emphasis on space systems engineering, as well as a new Astronomy and Astrophysics program."
Using OSCOM, the Engineering Physics students have obtained rapid brightness measurements of the satellite and debris fragments tumbling through space. These high-speed measurements - up to 100 samples per second for the main fragment - reveal bright reflections of solar light caused by different parts of Hitomi.
The data show a strong and consistent flash pattern with a period of 2.6 seconds. Further details about the OSCOM system, more photometry results, and observation videos can be found on the Space and Atmospheric Instrumentation Lab (SAIL) website.
Although OSCOM specializes in observing small satellites and CubeSats in low-Earth orbit (LEO), the project team has also developed optical observation and analysis techniques for solving space situational awareness problems with spatially resolved satellites in LEO, satellites in geostationary orbit, and debris and near-Earth asteroids.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.|