Astro H Overview

Astro-H is the sixth in the series of X-ray astronomy missions developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and is the fourth with NASA participation. Astro-H is still under development and is expected to launch in 2015.

The Astro-H satellite will carry four instruments to observe X-rays from sources such as supernova remnants, supermassive black holes, and clusters of galaxies. The Soft X-ray Spectrometer (SXS) is a microcalorimeter, which detects X-rays by the tiny amount of heat they leave in the detector when they are absorbed. The Hard X-ray Imager (HXI) is a solid-state detector that detects X-rays when they interact with a semiconductor. The Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) uses a CCD to image X-rays coming into the detector. The Soft Gamma-ray Detector (SGD) is another solid-state detector that can detect higher energy photons than the other detectors onboard.

Astro-H will be launched into a circular orbit with altitude between 500 and 600 km, as pictured below.

Illustration of the Astro-H orbit
Illustration of the Astro-H orbit (not to scale)