Ginga Overview

Ginga rocket launch
Launch of the rocket carrying the Ginga spacecraft. (The rocket is not bent, but that is rather an effect of the fish-eye lens that snapped this photo.)

Ginga was Japan’s third X-ray astronomy satellite from the JAXA (the Japanese space agency), and the first with United States participation. The satellite launched on February 5, 1987. Science observations continued until Ginga’s orbit decayed, bringing it back into the Earth’s atmosphere on November 1, 1991.

Ginga’s primary science instrument was the Large Area Proportional Counter (LAC), a proportional counter that was designed to study active galaxies and to characterize the time variability in galactic sources such as pulsars. It also carried an All-Sky Monitor (ASM) which could alert astronomers to transient events as well as archive the history of sources in the X-ray sky. Ginga also carried a Gamma-ray Burst Detector (GBD) designed to observe X-rays from gamma-ray bursts, which were a huge mystery in astronomy for over 20 years at the launch of Ginga.

Use the links below or in the sidebar to learn more about Ginga.

Ginga was the first Japanese X-ray mission with United States participation. It marked Japan’s first international collaboration, and paved the way for NASA’s future collaborations with Japan in X-ray astronomy.
What types of objects did Ginga observe? What cosmic problems did it contribute to solving?
Ginga carried three instruments to perform its observations, find out about them here. Ginga also was the last Japanese X-ray mission whose primary instrument used collimators to locate X-rays in the sky; learn about collimators and how technology has changed since then.