Japanese sky mapping satellite back on track

Japanese sky mapping satellite back on track

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Japan, 15 April 2006: A Japanese satellite orbiting the Earth will start mapping the sky in May after scientists fixed a glitch in the navigation system. Japan had launched the ASTRO-F Infrared Astronomical satellite on February 22, and had planned to start mapping the sky using infrared wavelengths from mid-April.

But space officials soon found that they could not direct the satellite because a sensor used to track its position in relation to the sun was not working, said Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency spokesman Shinji Nagai. The trouble was solved after officials adapted the navigation programme to allow them to control the satellite using a second sensor, intended to recognize its position in relation to the Earth.