Press Release

AKARI finishes its cool observations

By SpaceRef Editor
August 29, 2007
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THE JAXA/ESA infrared astronomical satellite, AKARI, ran out of its on-board supply of cryogen, liquid Helium at 08:33 (UT) on August 26th, 2007, signalling the completion of observations at far-infrared and mid-infrared wavelengths, including the All-Sky Survey.

During this period of operation, which began on May 8th, AKARI achieved the pre-launch expected lifetime of 550 days. The satellite completed the far-infrared All-Sky Survey covering about 94 per cent of the entire sky, and also carried out mid-infrared survey as well as more than five thousand individual pointed observations. The data obtained are now being intensively analysed by the project scientists and astronomers.

AKARI plans to continue warm phase observations using the surviving instruments that can still operate under the conditions provided by the additional on-board mechanical coolers. The preparation and performance evaluation of the next phase of the mission will be carried out over the next few months.

UK astronomers from The Open University, Imperial College London, University of Sussex and the Science and Technology Facilities Council?€?s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory are involved in AKARI which launched in February 2006. Supported by STFC they developed the software used to process the data returned from the telescope.

AKARI collaborator Dr Stephen Serjeant from the Open University said, “It’s a poignant moment when a major space mission like this, which so many people have worked so hard on, reaches the end of a major stage in its life span. AKARI has opened up new windows into the birth of stars and galaxies, the death of stars in supernovae, and supermassive black holes drawing in material from their surrounding galaxy. But there is a great deal still to be learned from the AKARI data and work is still being done on the data in hand. Also, AKARI will of course keep taking data at its shortest wavelengths, in the near-infrared just beyond the range of human eyesight.”

ESA AKARI Support Astronomer Dr Chris Pearson continues, “It is always a sad day when a satellite completes its life cycle, although AKARI will continue in a further warm phase of the mission. However, now we really concentrate on looking at the wealth of data taken by AKARI during its lifetime and get to grips with the analysis to produce valuable scientific results.”

UK AKARI collaborator Dr David Clements from Imperial College London add, ?€?The cold phase of the AKARI mission may now be over, but scientists and engineers from Japan and Europe will be continuing their work to secure AKARI?€?s scientific legacy. You can be sure that the best is yet to come.”

Notes to Editors

A description of and news from the AKARI observatory can be found on these three sites AKARI U.K. consortium website http://www.akari.org.uk/

ISAS website http://www.ir.isas.jaxa.jp/ASTRO-F/Outreach/index_e.html ESA AKARI website http://astro-f.esac.esa.int/

The AKARI Project is carried out with the support of Nagoya University, The University of Tokyo, the National Astronomical Observatory Japan, the European Space Agency (ESA), Imperial College London, the University of Sussex, The Open University (UK), the University of Groningen / SRON (The Netherlands), Seoul National University (Korea). The far-infrared detectors were developed in collaboration with The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology.

SpaceRef staff editor.