Missing probe leaves JAXA scratching head
Japan's space agency has lost a newly-launched astronomy satellite.
The Hitomi satellite is fitted with X-ray telescopes and gamma ray detectors, and was launched from Japan in mid-February.
Japan's Aerospace Exploration agency (JAXA) lost contact with the satellite last weekend, and its location is now being tracked by amateur astronomers.
The $365 million satellite is meant to gather data on the origin of the universe and its black holes, but it can do little without communication back to the ground.
JAXA says it has a team of 40 people investigating what went wrong.
One of the strongest theories is that the satellite suffered an “energetic event” like a gas leak or a battery explosion, which knocked out communications and sent it tumbling end-over-end in space.
There is now a real danger that the satellite will not be able to draw the solar energy, running down its battery before the space agency can reconnect and try to fix it.
JAXA is posting updates on its official site.