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Suzaku: a New Name for Astro-E2

Astro-E2 was successfully launched on 2005 July 10. JAXA held a press conference at the launch site, during which Prof. Inoue, the project manager, announced the new name of the mission, Suzaku - "the vermilion bird of the south."

It is an appropriate name for this mission, for several reasons.

  1. Suzaku is a red sparrow like bird in Chinese mythology, which guards us from evils and gives us good fortune. This name fits in with the tradition of Japanese X-ray astronomy satellites, which are often named after birds.

  2. Japanese X-ray astronomy started with Hakucho (swan, or constellation Cygnus, whose Chinese characters mean "white bird"), which was a recovery mission for the failed CORSA-A. Just as Japanese X-ray astronomy built on the success of Hakucho, the Japanese (and the world) X-ray astronomy community hope to start a new era with the new satellite named Suzaku ("vermilion bird").

  3. In Japanese history, emperors after the Asuka era in the 7th century built capital cities after the Chinese model. These cities were guarded by four deities in Chinese legends. The white tiger is the guardian of the west, the black turtle for the north, blue dragon for the east, and the vermilion bird for the south. Suzaku, the vermilion bird, was therefor a leading deity of the time following the Asuka era.

  4. In Chinese astrology, 28 constellations of the zodiac are governed by the four deities mentioned above. The vermilion bird, Suzaku, governs the southern part. The Virgo cluster of galaxies, one of the most important target of the new mission, is located in the part of sky governed by Suzaku.

If you have any questions concerning Suzaku, visit the Feedback form.

This file was last modified on Monday, 14-Aug-2006 13:41:37 EDT

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