About Saint Mary's

A New Look at Space with Help from Saint Mary’s

4 February, 2016

On February 12, 2016 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be launching ASTRO-H, a space observatory from Tanegashima Space Center. ASTRO-H was developed in collaboration with universities and research institutes from Japan and internationally including the Canadian Space Agency and Saint Mary’s University. Dr. Luigi Gallo, a Saint Mary’s astronomy and physics professor leads the Canadian science team that worked on the project.

“After working on the ASTRO-H project for eight years it will be exciting to finally see it launch and give us a new view of the Universe around us,” said Dr. Gallo

ASTRO-H is a scientific satellite that will have the most advanced X-ray detectors ever flown in orbit around Earth. X-rays are 1,000 to 10,000 times more energetic than visible light and are invisible to the naked eye. X-rays are effectively blocked by Earth’s atmosphere so an orbiting telescope is necessary to see them. These X-Rays are emitted by numerous astronomical objects, including black holes, neutron stars and galaxy clusters.

ASTRO-H is equipped with a laser measurement system, the Canadian ASTRO-H Metrology System (CAMS), was built by Neptec Design Ltd. for the Canadian Space Agency. CAMS will assist ASTRO-H’s Hard X-ray telescope in making unprecedented observations of phenomena such as black holes, supernova explosions, neutron stars and make advances toward understanding how galaxies were formed.

“Only about 5% of the Universe is emits light that we can study” said Dr. Gallo. “X-rays originate from the most extreme environments that can never be studied in laboratories on Earth. ASTRO-H is going to provide us an unprecedented view of the most hostile regions in space.”

The scheduled launch date and time for ASTRO-H is February 12 at 4:45 am AST. Dr. Gallo will be in Japan for the launch and JAXA will be providing a live webcast.

UpdateThe ASTRO-H launched successfully and has been named "Hitomi".