This Friday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be launching their new X-Ray observatory satellite into space, where it will observe space phenomena such as black holes and galaxy clusters. This is the sixth of its kind to be launched by JAXA and will be carrying a number of scientific tools and monitors along with it, with monitors able to detect X-rays as many as 10 times fainter than predecessor satellite, Suzaku.
The main instrument equipped aboard Astro-H is the Soft X-Ray Spectrometer (SXS), fitted with a “microcalorimeter.” Built in cooperation between Goddard and a number of Japanese research institutions, the spectrometer will make use of the addition in order to detect and measure the colours of X-rays. Two other SXS telescopes will also be aboard, equipped with NASA Goddard built mirror assemblies designed to pick up on X-rays as weak as 300 electron volts. These mirrors work in concert with the other onboard instruments, one dedicated to directing light into a wide-field camera in order to record images and the other directing light into the SXS devices, which are required to be kept at -459.58 degrees Fahrenheit due to cooling from liquid helium.
Joining the Soft X-Ray instruments, Astro-H also carries an array of Hard X-Ray imagers with a detection range of 5 to 80 KeV. The last of the tools is a pair of Soft Gamma-ray Detectors (SGDs) which add coverage of low energy gamma-rays to the imaging suite. These SGDs are capable of recording in the energy range of 60 to 600 KeV.
During its lifespan, Astro-H will be dedicated to finding and imaging materials entering black holes and other high-energy and X-ray emitting phenomena. With black holes currently making headlines, it will be fascinating to see what this new observatory will allow astronomers to discover and further unravel the mysteries of the universe. The launch will even by live streamed on Youtube by JAXA, which is currently scheduled to be at 5:45-6:30 p.m JST (08:45 GMT) for those avid space fans.
Image via NASA/JAXA