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Instrument on Japanese astronomy spacecraft fails
Posted: Wed, Aug 10, 2005, 10:36 AM ET (1436 GMT)
Suzaku spacecraft illustration (JAXA) An x-ray instrument on a Japanese astronomy spacecraft launched last month has failed, dealing scientists a significant setback, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) officials announced Wednesday. JAXA officials said that the X-ray Spectrometer (XRS) instrument on the Suzaku spacecraft failed when it lost all the liquid helium needed to cool the instrument to its operating temperature; without it, the XRS cannot operate as planned. The cause of the loss of liquid helium is under investigation. XRS, developed in cooperation with NASA, is one of three instruments on Suzaku, known as Astro-E2 prior to its launch on July 10. The failure does not affect the other two instruments on Suzaku, but the XRS was considered by scientists to be the key instrument on the spacecraft. Another XRS was flown on the Astro-E spacecraft, which was lost in a launch vehicle failure in 2000.
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