An Earth observation satellite from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been awarded the Guinness Book of World Records for creating ultra-low orbit records,media reported. During the mission period from 23 December 2017 to 1 October 2019, the Ultra Low Altitude Test Satellite (SLATS) “TSUBAME” reached an appropriate ultra-low orbit of 167.4 km (104 miles).
Earth observation satellites are a great platform to learn more about our planet, but the reason sedation that makes them so effective is one of their main drawbacks. Because they are located in low-Earth orbits at a maximum of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), they can observe much of the Earth’s surface. Unfortunately, being at this height means that the resolution of the image that can be captured is limited.
The TSUBAME mission is designed to test the feasibility of placing satellites in ultra-low orbits between 200 and 300 kilometers (120 to 190 miles), where they can capture high-resolution images. The problem is that the fragile atmosphere in that orbit produces a thousand times more atmospheric resistance than the atmospheric resistance at higher orbits, and the presence of atomic oxygen can cause the spacecraft to deteriorate rapidly.
To overcome this problem, TSUBAME is made of special antioxidant materials and is equipped with ion engines and jet thrusters to help it maintain its orbit and precise positioning, allowing it to capture surface images and measure oxygen concentrations.
During the mission, TSUBAME started on a 271.5 km (168.7 mile) track and then dropped to a record 167.4km and ran for seven days. It manages to be exposed to the atmosphere and to capture the desired test images.
“I think we’ve succeeded in creating this unprecedented satellite that can keep it in ultra-low orbit. This is not only because we have systems and basic technologies for the development and operation of satellites, including our years of experience in ion engines and tracking and control technologies, but also because Japan has a high level of science and technology,” said Sasaki Masanori, SLATS program director. “I want to use this achievement for future scientific, technological and satellite use and to contribute to helping solve as many social problems as possible. “