A Brief History of the Collaboration

Ginga satellite in the clean room
Ginga in the clean room
GIS instrument from the ASCA satellite
The GIS instrument from ASCA

Suzaku Satellite
The Suzaku satellite in Japan
Astro-H's hard x-ray imager
Astro-H’s hard X-ray imager prototype

Astronomy is all about collaboration – teams of scientists and engineers pool their collective resources to work on understanding the Universe around us. Scientists ponder questions of how the Universe works, they formulate hypotheses and collect data to test those hypotheses. Most importantly, though, they share data and hypotheses with colleagues – in sharing they get other opinions, other points of view, and sanity checks on their conclusions. Through these collaborations, the true picture of how things work becomes stronger. Engineers collaborate with scientists and each other to determine what tools scientists need to collect the best data they can. In their collaborations, engineers share best practices, new ideas and methods for building the best instruments they can with the technology at hand – Advancing technology all the faster through their collaborative efforts.

How do collaborations start? For scientists and engineers working at the same university or research lab, collaborations may stem naturally from hallway conversations. What about scientists working at different locations? Or, across the globe? Those collaborations are forged by scientists and engineers visiting other institutions or striking up conversations at conferences. Here is a short history of the collaboration in X-ray astronomy between the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS; which has been part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) since 2003) in Japan and NASA in the United States.