Japan’s ERG satellite successfully launched

Japan’s ERG satellite successfully launched

The Japanese spacecraft designed to help scientists study the computer-busting radiation of the Van Allen belts successfully entered Earth’s orbit on Tuesday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has confirmed.

JAXA officials told reporters that the agency’s Exploration of energization & Radiation in Geospace (ERG) satellite lifted off atop an Epsilon rocket from southern Japan-based Uchinoura Space Center at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) on Dec. 20.

ERG will operate in a highly elliptical orbit, going as far away from Earth as 18,640 miles and getting as close to the planet as 215 miles. It will take the 355kg satellite through the Van Allen radiation belts, where the magnetic field of our planet has trapped huge amounts of electrons and other particles.

The satellite is expected to help scientists determine how these high-energy electrons are created and accelerated, as well as how space storms develop.

JAXA officials said in a statement, “ERG will make a comprehensive observation of the electrons and ions near the equatorial plane in geospace, which is thought to be the area where the acceleration of such electrons is occurring.”

It was the second launch for Japan’s Epsilon rocket, with the first liftoff occurred in September 2013. The successful launch of the satellite also represents a big leap forward for the Asian country’s space program.

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