Japan Shuts Down Crippled Akari Infrared Telescope

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shut down the Akari infrared space telescope Nov. 24, some five months after the partially crippled spacecraft’s science operations ended. JAXA said in a statement that Akari’s on-board transmitters were turned off at 5:23 p.m. Japan standard time.

The 952-kilogram Akari satellite, also known as Astro-F, was launched in February 2006 from Japan’s Uchinoura Space Center aboard an M-5 rocket.

The spacecraft was designed to operate for at least three years, surveying the entire sky in near-, mid- and far-infrared wavelengths.

At the end of May, Akari suffered a power-supply system failure that rendered the spacecraft unable to store electricity produced by its solar arrays. The satellite’s 750-kilometer sun-synchronous polar orbit takes it around Earth once every 100 minutes, which means the satellite spent only 20 minutes of each orbit in the Earth’s shadow. Despite JAXA’s initial reluctance to declare the mission over, the space agency ultimately ended science operations in June.