JAXA's Space Satellite Astro-H
JAXA's Space Satellite Astro-H Facebook/JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)

It was a sad day for space scientists and researchers as Japan’s space agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), confirmed on Thursday that it cannot restore its black hole identifying Hitomi. The shocking declaration came even after it was thought that the multi-million dollar satellite ($365 million) had re-emerged sending strange, terse and cryptic messages. However, the messages were not from Hitomi but intercepted radio interference, revealed experts from JAXA.

As far as Hitomi’s fate is concerned, it has spiralled out of control and broken into pieces. Scientists believe that human error was responsible for the sad ending of astronomy satellite Hitomi. It was created in collaboration with NASA and its main purpose was to study black holes and gather data from space to understand the origin of the universe.

The satellite was launched in February and was met with widespread support and jubilation. However, a month later, ground control engineers lost contact with the ASTRO-H satellite as it was being directed toward an active galactic centre.

The scientists have given a possible reason in a statement by JAXA for the unfortunate ending of Hitomi. They believe that Hitomi’s both solar array paddles broke off at the bases that made the satellite swing out of control. JAXA has given up all efforts to retrieve the satellite and will focus on the investigation of anomaly causes.

The space agency will review every phase of the satellite from design and manufacturing to verifications and operations including background factors to understand the causes behind the million dollar loss. The reason why the solar array paddles broke off remains a mystery. However, due to the breakage, Hitomi’s primary power source got destroyed, thereby making contact with it all the more difficult.

“We feel very sorry about it. There was a human error, but in a critical system like this we have to imagine that humans do make errors. So rather than thinking of this as an error of a human, we believe that there's a problem in the system,” the director of the Space Science Research Centre at JAXA, Dr. Saku Tsumeta, told a press conference.

Tsumeta added that the agency does not have enough funds for a replacement and would have to wait another 12 years to make it possible. He thanked the Japanese people and NASA for supporting the satellite and apologised for the loss.