ASCA: What does the name mean?Before launch the satellite was known as ASTRO-D. This simply meant the 4th satellite in the "ASTRO" series. As the name implies, the ASTRO satellites are for astronomy - X-ray astronomy, in this case. There are other series of satellites at ISAS: MUSES (for engineering test projects), SOLAR, and PLANETS for example.
It is customary for an ISAS satellite to have a pre-launch project name (such as ASTRO-D) and a post-launch proper name. The previous satellite in the ASTRO series became Hakucho (swan, or the constellation Cygnus), Tenma (heavenly horse, or the constellation Pegasus), and Ginga (Galaxy).
The name ASCA is a pun. Spelled this way, it is an acronym: Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics. The name also sounds like Asuka, an ancient word meaning a flying bird. As shown above, the satellite with its long telescope housing and the extended solar panels do look like certain birds. Moreover, Asuka is the name of a region in central Japan, or an era in Japanese history during which that region was the capital, or the Japanese culture of that era.
This page created by Dr. Koji Mukai (USRA) at the U.S. ASCA Guest Observer Facility.
If you have any questions concerning ASCA, visit our Feedback form.