NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Almost time…

Update, Feb 16: We have an official updated launch date! It’ll be 3:45 AM EST February 17th (that is Tuesday into early Wednesday morning).

The time is almost here to see the ASTRO-H spacecraft launch, and to learn what its true name will be. The Japanese space agency has a long tradition of naming spacecraft post-launch – for example ASTRO-H predecessor, ASTRO-E2, is now called Suzaku. This is kind of a cool and symbolic name because ASTRO-E2 was built after ASTRO-E had a mishap with its rocket. Suzaku means vermillion bird, and is like a phoenix. A nice way to show the rebirth of a scientific mission.

What will ASTRO-H be called? It’s being kept secret for now, but we will report after the name is released!

And that time is soon! ASTRO-H will launch at 5:45 PM Feb, 12th JST, or 3:45 EST (that is, Thursday night into Friday for U.S. East Coasters).

If you want to watch the launch, it will be broadcast on YouTube here (

ASTRO-H will help us to advance our knowledge “high-energy” phenomena from the small to the vast. We’ll be able to further examine superheated material circling black holes and giving off X-rays, as well as study how giant clusters of galaxies evolve.

Said Robert Petre, chief of Goddard’s X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory and the U.S. project scientist for ASTRO-H,”These energies arise in a variety of settings, including stellar explosions, extreme magnetic fields, or strong gravity, and X-rays let us probe aspects of these phenomena that are inaccessible by instruments observing at other wavelengths.”

Here are a few images:

ASTRO-H Artist Impression

An artist’s rendering of ASTRO-H in orbit.
Credit: JAXA


This illustration shows the locations and energy ranges of ASTRO-H science instruments and their associated telescopes. One keV equals 1,000 electron volts, which is hundreds of times the energy of visible light.
Credits: JAXA/NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center


The ASTRO-H spacecraft as it appeared on Nov. 27, 2015, at Tsukuba Space Center in Japan. The open compartment visible at lower left houses the Soft X-ray Spectrometer.
Credit: JAXA


The heart of the ASTRO-H Soft X-ray Spectrometer is the microcalorimeter array at center. The five-millimeter square forms a 36-pixel array. Each pixel is 0.824 millimeter on a side, or about the width of the ball in a ballpoint pen. The detector’s field of view is approximately three arcminutes, or one-tenth the apparent diameter of the full moon.
Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

More images (and high-res versions of the images here) are available at SVS.

If you’d like to read more about ASTRO-H, here is a NASA Goddard feature.

Kevin Boyce, our Blueshift project correspondent for ASTRO-H (and system engineer for the project) has several posts here.

Our very best to the ASTRO-H team!

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.

NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration