News, Science, Technology

Hitomi Satellite Out Of Touch

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Hitomi Satellite. Image: Wikipedia
Hitomi Satellite. Image: Wikipedia

Recently, Japan’s space agency sent a very sophisticated telescope into space. It carries some very expensive technology on it, including some designed by Canadians.

The Hitomi spacecraft’s telescope looks for, and gathers, “space X-rays.” These aren’t the kind of X-rays you get from the doctor. Space X-rays are invisible light waves, and scientists can learn a lot from them about how the universe was formed.

The Canadian technology on board helps to make the pictures of the X-rays crystal clear so scientists can study them.

However, scientists recently lost contact with the Hitomi, which cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars. (There are no humans or animals on board the spacecraft.) There is a fear that some of the spacecraft has broken away from its main section.

Hitomi (formerly called Astro-H) had a successful launch on February 17. But on March 26, scientists lost contact with it. Since then, they have had a couple of small communications from it, including a video that showed the satellite “spinning around in the sky,” according to the UK’s Independent newspaper.

One Canadian scientist who helped with the mission, and is hoping to learn a lot from the Hitomi, is Luigi Gallo, Professor of Astronomy at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

He said the Hitomi is “high-risk, high payoff” science.  And he said that even when things don’t go according to plan, there are many things scientists can learn.

Scientists, including professor Gallo, will continue to monitor the situation closely and listen–and watch–for communication from Hitomi as it continues to orbit the Earth.

Gallo said there is still cause for hope. If the spacecraft is still mostly intact, there is a good chance that some of it could be recovered.

Link to the Wikipedia page on Hitomi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitomi_

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Dr. Gallo said, “even when things don’t go according to plan, there are many things scientists can learn.” Thinking of your own experiences, when have you learned a lot “even when things don’t go according to plan.” Share them with a friend and discuss how these experiences are similar.

Reading Prompt: Comprehension
The image of the Hitomi satellite includes descriptions in French. What is your best guess for the definition of these words? Why do you think your definitions are good ones?

Primary & Junior
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Intermediate
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Language Feature: Hyphen ( – )
Today’s article includes several examples of hyphens. Hyphens are punctuation marks that can be used in a few different ways. Let’s take a closer look at how a hyphen can be used to connect an adjective and a noun, a description with a person, place, or thing. “X-ray” is a hyphenated word because the inventor of X-rays, Dr. Roentgen, believed that the letter “x” described something unknown. As a result, “x-rays” were meant to describe “unknown rays.” (Despite his strong dislike for the term “x-ray,” the name stuck). The term “high-risk” is also hyphenated in today’s article because the adjective “high” is attached to the noun “risk.” Together, connected by a hyphen, these words perfectly describe what type of project the Hitomi is.

Make several of your own hyphenated combinations using adjectives and nouns.