NanoAvionics has unveiled plans to ship a revolutionary nanosatellite for a groundbreaking mission that will investigate black holes and neutron stars from a low Earth orbit (LEO).
NanoAvionics has unveiled plans to ship a revolutionary nanosatellite for a groundbreaking mission that will investigate black holes and neutron stars from a low Earth orbit (LEO). The announcement was made as the Lithuania company detailed its collaboration with the Japanese research institute Riken in the ambitious NinjaSat mission.
Utilizing NanoAvionics' state-of-the-art 6U satellite platform, NinjaSat will be integrated with advanced X-ray photon tracking equipment developed by Riken.
The primary objective of the mission is to observe and analyze the X-ray emissions from compact objects like black holes and neutron stars, shedding light on the complex processes of matter accretion around these enigmatic celestial bodies.
Scheduled for launch aboard SpaceX's next Falcon 9 Transporter rideshare mission later this fall, NinjaSat is slated to spend two years in low Earth orbit. During this time, the nanosatellite will focus its observations on persistently bright X-ray objects, including the intriguing Scorpius X-1, a binary star system featuring a rapidly spinning neutron star. This unique system is considered one of the brightest X-ray sources visible from near-Earth orbit.
NinjaSat's innovative design includes two identical Gas Multiplier Counters for precise measurement of individual radiation events. These counters are strategically placed at each end of the spacecraft, facing space. Additionally, the nanosatellite is equipped with a pair of Radiation Belt Monitors to monitor background particles and a star tracker for accurate positioning.
Riken, the financial driving force behind the mission, has emphasized that NinjaSat's observations will not only contribute to our understanding of black holes and neutron stars but also build upon data collected by the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI), an X-ray camera stationed on the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station.
The flexibility and high cadence monitoring capabilities of NinjaSat make it an ideal platform for studying transient cosmic phenomena, thus advancing the field of time-domain astronomy.
"NinjaSat allows high cadence monitoring and flexible operations for such transient sources, which are of great value in time-domain astronomy, covertly targeting critical scientific results as a ninja." - Dr. Toru Tamagawa, Chief Scientist at Riken
Riken's involvement in the mission was facilitated by Mitsui Bussan Aerospace (MBA), which played a key role in procuring NinjaSat. The successful collaboration between NanoAvionics and Riken marks the beginning of a broader partnership between NanoAvionics and MBA, aiming to leverage the Lithuanian company's cutting-edge technology for various projects in the Japanese space market.
As the launch date approaches, the scientific community anticipats what new insights into the mysterious workings of black holes and neutron stars will be discovered with NinjaSat.