Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics

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Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics
NamesASTRO-D, Asuka
Mission typeX-ray observatory
OperatorISAS / NASA
COSPAR ID1993-011A
SATCAT no.22521
Mission durationFinal: 8 years, 10 days
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass420 kg (930 lb)
Dimensions4.7 m (15 ft) long
Start of mission
Launch date20 February 1993, 02:20 (1993-02-20UTC02:20) UTC
RocketMu-3SII 7
Launch siteKagoshima Space Center, Japan
End of mission
Decay date2 March 2001, 14:20 (2001-03-02UTC14:21) UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee523.6 km (325.3 mi)
Apogee615.3 km (382.3 mi)
Period96.09 minutes
Epoch20 February 1993
Main telescope
Diameter1.2 m (3.9 ft)
Focal length3.5 m (11 ft)
Collecting area1,300 cm2 (200 sq in) @ 1 kev
600 cm2 (93 sq in) @ 7 keV
WavelengthsX-ray, SIS: 3–0.12 nm (0.4–10 keV)[1]
GIS: 1.8–0.12 nm (0.7–10 keV)[2]

The Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics (ASCA, formerly named ASTRO-D) was the fourth cosmic X-ray astronomy mission by JAXA, and the second for which the United States provided part of the scientific payload. The satellite was successfully launched on 20 February 1993. The first eight months of the ASCA mission were devoted to performance verification. Having established the quality of performance of all ASCA's instruments, the spacecraft provided science observations for the remainder of the mission. In this phase the observing program was open to astronomers based at Japanese and U.S. institutions, as well as those located in member states of the European Space Agency.[3][4]

X-ray astronomy mission[edit]

ASCA was the first X-ray astronomy mission to combine imaging capability with a broad pass band, good spectral resolution, and a large effective area. The mission also was the first satellite to use CCDs for X-ray astronomy. With these properties, the primary scientific purpose of ASCA is the X-ray spectroscopy of astrophysical plasmas, especially the analysis of discrete features such as emission lines and absorption edges.

ASCA carried four large-area X-ray telescopes. At the focus of two of the telescopes is a gas imaging spectrometer (GIS), while a solid-state imaging spectrometer (SIS) is at the focus of the other two.[3][4] The GIS is a gas-imaging scintillation proportional counter and is based on the GSPC that flew on the second Japanese X-ray astronomy mission TENMA. The two identical charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras were provided for the two SISs by a hardware team from MIT, Osaka University and ISAS.

Significant contributions[edit]

The ASCA was launched by ISAS (Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences), Japan.

The sensitivity of ASCA's instruments allowed for the first detailed, broad-band spectra of distant quasars to be derived. In addition, ASCA's suite of instruments provided the best opportunity at the time for identifying the sources whose combined emission makes up the cosmic X-ray background.[3][5]

It performed over 3000 observations, and produced over 1000 publications in refereed journals so far. The ASCA archive contains significant amounts of data for future analyses. Furthermore, the mission is termed highly successful when reflecting on what scientists in many counties have accomplished using ASCA data up to this time.

The U.S. contributed significantly to ASCA's scientific payloads. In return, 40% of ASCA observing time was made available to U.S. scientists. (ISAS also opened up 10% of the time to ESA scientists as a good-will gesture.) In addition, all ASCA data enter the public domain after a suitable period (1 year for U.S. data, 18 months for Japanese data) and become available to scientists worldwide. The design of ASCA was optimized for X-ray spectroscopy; thus it complimented ROSAT (optimized for X-ray imaging) and RXTE (optimized for timing studies). Finally, ASCA results cover almost the entire range of objects, from nearby stars to the most distant objects in the universe.[6]

Mission end[edit]

The mission operated successfully for over 7 years until attitude control was lost on 14 July 2000 during a geomagnetic storm, after which no scientific observations were performed. ASCA reentered the atmosphere on 2 March 2001 after more than 8 years in orbit.

The primary responsibility of the U.S. ASCA GOF was to enable U.S. astronomers to make the best use of the ASCA mission, in close collaboration with the Japanese ASCA team.[7]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ "Solid-state Imaging Spectrometers". 25 June 2001. Retrieved 26 November 2016. Energy Range: 0.4 keV to 10 keV keV
  2. ^ "Gas Imaging Spectrometers". 1 April 2005. Retrieved 26 November 2016. Energy Range : 0.7 keV to 10 keV
  3. ^ a b c "ASCA". NASA Science Missions. NASA. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011.
  4. ^ a b Tanaka, Yasuo; Inoue, Hajime; Holt, Stephen S. (June 1994). "The X-ray astronomy satellite ASCA". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. 46 (3): L37–L41. Bibcode:1994PASJ...46L..37T.
  5. ^ Tsusaka, Yoshiyuki; Suzuki, Hisanori; Yamashita, Koujun; Kunieda, Hideyo; Tawara, Yuzuru; et al. (August 1995). "Characterization of the Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics X-ray telescope: Preflight calibration and ray tracing". Applied Optics. 34 (22): 4848–4856. Bibcode:1995ApOpt..34.4848T. doi:10.1364/AO.34.004848. PMID 21052325.
  6. ^ "ASCA's Significant Contributions to Astrophysics". ASCA Guest Observer Facility. NASA. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  7. ^ "The ASCA Mission: (1993-2000)". NASA. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011.

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