ASCA Collaboration

ASCA satellite in orbit
Artist’s impression of the ASCA satellite in orbit around Earth.

The Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics (called ASCA for short) was launched by the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS) on February 20, 1993. ASCA was the second X-ray satellite built by the Japanese with participation from NASA.

The name ASCA is a pun. Spelled this way, it is an acronym that stands for “Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics.” However, the name also sounds like “asuka”, an ancient word meaning a flying bird. Plus, Asuka is the name of a region in central Japan, an era in Japanese history during which that region was the capital, and the Japanese culture of that era.

In the mid-1980s, the Japanese were looking for lightweight optics for their planned Astro-D mission (later renamed ASCA). At the same time, the X-ray group at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was developing techniques to manufacture lightweight X-ray mirrors. The collaboration seemed natural, so the Goddard X-ray group provided the mirrors for ASCA, which operated successfully from February 1993 through March 2001.

The Japanese also collaborated with other institutions in the United States to build and test some of the detectors on ASCA.

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

Read a brief overview of the ASCA mission
What types of objects did ASCA observe? What cosmic problems did it contribute to solving?
ASCA carried two types of telescopes and detectors to perform its observations, find out about them here.