Commencement of "Akari" Observations
24 May 2006
(Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
The infrared satellite AKARI (formerly ASTRO-F) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which was launched from the Uchinoura Space Center on the 21st of February (UT), captured light for the first time when the telescope aperture lid was opened on the 13th of April. After the aperture lid was jettisoned the instruments became fully operational and their performance was confirmed. Following this, the telescope focus adjustment and the optimization of the attitude control system, etc., were successfully carried out.
We are pleased to announce that the in-orbit performance of the telescope and the two infrared instruments have been verified to be as expected and we are now moving from the performance verification (PV) phase to Phase 1 (real observations) of the mission. The final step in the PV phase has been to produce infrared images of world class resolution and sensitivity which will be presented to the general public.
AKARI carries two instruments, the Far Infrared Surveyor (FIS) and the near-mid Infrared Camera (IRC), to observe the entire sky spanning a large wavelength range from the near-infrared to the far-infrared.
The initial images from the mission, show the drastic improvements in resolution and sensitivity over the infrared maps of the Universe currently available. Continuing into the main phase of the mission, we are now looking forward to new infrared maps of the Universe and exciting discoveries in the evolution and origin of stars, galaxies and planetary systems.
The FIS instrument detectors are provided by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and the instrument itself was developed by Nagoya University, JAXA, the University of Tokyo, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and other supporting institutes. The IRC instrument was developed by JAXA, the University of Tokyo and other supporting institutes.
In addition to the domestic institutes mentioned above, the operation and data processing of the AKARI are carried out with international cooperation and support from the European Space Agency (ESA), the Imperial College London, the University of Sussex and Open University in the United Kingdom, the University of Groningen and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) in the Netherlands and Seoul National University in South Korea.