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Operational Update, Super Low Altitude Test Satellite (SLATS)

June 1, 2018 (JST)

National Research and Development Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

JAXA transitioned the phase of the Agency’s Super Low Altitude Test Satellite (SLATS)*1 from the initial operations*2 to the orbit transfer. After the launch on December 23, 2017, SLATS completed its initial operations phase in March 2018. In the ongoing orbit transfer phase, the spacecraft is slowly descending its orbital altitude by the effect of atmospheric drag. At around the altitude of 380 kilometers, SLATS is now continuing its nominal operations. Following are the three mission instruments that SLATS’ observation operation is based on:

  1. 1 Small and High Resolution Optical Sensor (SHIROP)
  2. 2 Optical Sensor (OPS)
  3. 3 Atomic Oxygen Monitor System (AMO)

SLATS continues lowering its altitude and is expected to reach its super low altitude at 268 kilometers around April 2019. Thereafter, the onboard ion engine is used to provide the thrust to keep precisely the altitude.

*1 Super Low Altitude Test Satellite, SLATS
Mission Overview: To explore the relatively undeveloped low orbit, SLATS carries out verification of imaging technique using its onboard Small High Resolution Optical Sensor and observations of atmospheric properties of the orbit. The spacecraft mass at launch was 383 kilograms.
Refer to:
*2 SLATS’s initial operations phase
After the launch, performances and functions of the satellite were confirmed and using the onboard gas jet, the satellite’s orbit was transferred from the insertion altitude by the launch vehicle to the orbital transfer altitude.