Japan launches Solar-B, will also study effects of solar flares on satellite...

Japan launches Solar-B, will also study effects of solar flares on satellite systems

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Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, 23 September 2006 – The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the 22nd Scientific Satellite (SOLAR-B) aboard the M-V Launch Vehicle No. 7 (M-V-7) at 6:36 a.m. on September 23, 2006 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Uchinoura Space Center (USC), Kagoshima prefecture. The launcher was set to a vertical angle of 82.0 degrees, and the flight azimuth was 149.3 degrees.

The 900-kg satellite – incorporating a set of optical, extreme ultraviolet and X-ray instruments designed to investigate the sun’s magnetic field – was headed for a north-south orbit around the Earth pointing continuously at the sun. Scientists said the satellite would help them understand the origin and consequences of active phenomena that take place in the sun’s corona by surveying the visible surface of the sun.

Jointly designed by the U.S., Britain and Japan, the Solar-B mission would also improve scientists’ understanding of the effects of solar flares and eruptions on satellite systems. “In this modern world, we can’t separate communication, broadcast and weather satellites from our life,” said Takeo Kosugi, Solar-B project manager at JAXA. “So it is becoming very important to protect satellites from solar eruptions,” he said.

JAXA started receiving signals from the SOLAR-B at 7:21 a.m. (JST) at the Santiago Station, and from those signals it was verified that the SOLAR-B had successfully separated from the launch vehicle and its solar array paddles (PDL) had been normally deployed.

The in-orbit SOLAR-B was given a nickname of “Hinode” (meaning “sunrise”). Solar-B is Japan’s third solar observation satellite after launches in 1981 and 1991.

– About Uchinoura Space Center
The Uchinoura Space Center (USC) launches sounding rockets and scientific satellites and also manages tracking and data. This space center was established in Uchinoura (now Kimotsuki), Kagoshima prefecture, in 1962 as part of the Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo, when the original facility in Iwaki (now Yuri-Honjo), Akita prefecture, was closed down. In 1964, the space center became part of the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, University of Tokyo; in 1981 it became an independent research facility, the Kagoshima Space Center (KSC), attached to the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). Its name was changed to the Uchinoura Space Center (USC) when the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was formed. For more information visit: http://www.jaxa.jp/about/centers/usc/index_e.html