Suzaku (satellite)

Suzaku (formerly ASTRO-EII) was an X-ray astronomy satellite developed jointly by the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science at JAXA and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to probe high energy X-ray sources, such as supernova explosions, black holes and galactic clusters. It was launched on 10 July 2005 aboard the M-V-6 rocket. After its successful launch, the satellite was renamed Suzaku after the mythical Vermilion bird of the South.[4]

Suzaku (ASTRO-EII)
A picture of a fully integrated Astro-E2 before vibration tests at ISAS/JAXA.
Mission typeAstronomy
OperatorJAXA / NASA
COSPAR ID2005-025A
SATCAT no.28773
Mission durationPlanned: 2 years
Actual: 10 years, 1 month, 23 days
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass1,706 kilograms (3,761 lb)[2]
Start of mission
Launch date2005-07-10, 03:30:00 UTC
Launch siteUchinoura Space Center
Uchinoura, Kagoshima, Japan
End of mission
Decay dateno earlier than 2020[3]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude550 kilometres (340 mi)
Apogee altitude550 kilometres (340 mi)
Inclination31 degrees
Period96 minute
Main telescope
The M-V rocket carrying ASTRO-E veering off course after launch on 10 February 2000.
OperatorInstitute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS)
COSPAR ID2005-025A
SATCAT no.28773
Start of mission
Launch date01:30:00, February 10, 2000 (UTC) (2000-02-10T01:30:00Z)
Launch siteKagoshima Space Center

Just weeks after launch, on 29 July 2005 the first of a series of cooling system malfunctions occurred. These ultimately caused the entire reservoir of liquid helium to boil off into space by 8 August 2005. This effectively shut down the X-ray Spectrometer (XRS), which was the spacecraft's primary instrument. The two other instruments, the X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS) and the Hard X-ray Detector (HXD), were unaffected by the malfunction. As a result, another XRS was integrated into the Hitomi X-ray satellite, launched in 2016.

On 26 August 2015, JAXA announced that communications with Suzaku had been intermittent since 1 June, and that the resumption of scientific operations would be difficult to accomplish given the spacecraft's condition.[5] Mission operators decided to complete the mission imminently, as Suzaku had exceeded its design lifespan by eight years at this point. The mission came to an end on 2 September 2015, when JAXA commanded the radio transmitters on Suzaku to switch themselves off.[3][6]

Spacecraft instruments

Suzaku carried high spectroscopic resolution, very wide energy band instruments for detecting signals ranging from soft X-rays up to gamma-rays (0.3–600 keV). High resolution spectroscopy and wide-band are essential factors to physically investigate high energy astronomical phenomena, such as black holes and supernovae. One such feature, the broad iron K line, may be key to more direct imaging of black holes.

  • X-ray Telescope (XRT)
  • X-ray Spectrometer (XRS)
  • X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS)
  • Hard X-ray Detector (HXD)
    • Uses Gadolinium Silicate crystal (GSO), Gd2SiO5(Ce)[7]
    • Uses Bismuth Germanate crystal (BGO), Bi4Ge3O12[7]


Suzaku was a replacement for ASTRO-E, which was lost in a launch failure. The M-V-4 carrier rocket launched on 10 February 2000 at 01:30:00 UTC but experienced a failure 42 seconds later, failing to achieve orbit and crashing with its payload into the ocean.[8]


Suzaku discovered "fossil" light from a supernova remnant.[9]


  1. "Encyclopedia Astronautica - Toshiba". Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  2. Kazuhisa Mitsuda; et al. (25 January 2007). "The X-Ray Observatory Suzaku". Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn. 59 (SP1): S1–S7. arXiv:astro-ph/0608100. Bibcode:2007PASJ...59....1T. doi:10.1093/pasj/59.1.1. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  3. Stephen Clark (4 September 2015). "Japanese X-ray observatory completes decade-long mission". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  4. すざく(朱雀、Suzaku) 命名の理由, JAXA
  5. "X-ray Astronomy Satellite "Suzaku" Completes Scientific Mission". National Research and Development Agency (JAXA). 26 August 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  6. "Suzaku Mission Declared Complete". Goddard Space Flight Center. 28 August 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  7. Tadayuki Takahashi; et al. (25 January 2007). "Hard X-ray Detector (HXD) on Board Suzaku". Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn. 59 (SP1): S23–S33. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  8. Kevin Boyce (2005). "ASTRO-E Launch". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  9. Suzaku Finds "Fossil" Fireballs from Supernovae 12.30.09

Further reading

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