The ASCA Mission

Return of the Flying Bird

ASCA, the Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics, was the fourth Japanese cosmic X-ray astronomy mission, and the second for which the United States provided part of the science payload. The name ASCA was given to the satellite after launch in 1993; the name was chosen since it sounds like Asuka, an ancient Japanese word meaning a flying bird. As shown in the picture above, the satellite with its long telescope housing and the extended solar panels do look like certain birds. The ASCA observatory was incredibly successful an boasted a number of technological and scientific "firsts". The ASCA observatory marked the first large-scale use of CCD detectors in X-ray astronomy, and the first long-term use of lightweight thin foil optics for bringing the X-rays to focus. Among the science highlights: measuring emission from material about to take the final plunge into a black hole; discovery of "middleweight" black holes; proof that supernova remnants can produce cosmic rays; and measurement of the chemical makeup of stars and galaxies. After 8 productive years in orbit, ASCA re-entered the atmosphere at 05:21 UT on March 2, 2001 over the western Pacific, at 8.2 degrees S and 163.2 degrees E.

Last Week * HEA Dictionary * Archive * Search HEAPOW * Education

Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified March 5, 2001