A large orbit provides satellites with a good overview, but at the same time reduces the detail of photographs. Japanese engineers succeeded in solving the problem, having created the first generation of “low-flying” satellites. Despite a number of technical difficulties associated with the high density of the atmosphere, the first of the new products successfully completed the flight test cycle.
During the tests, the TSUBAME satellite, developed by the Japanese aerospace research agency JAXA, was able to achieve an altitude of 167.4 kilometers for this class of equipment, which was entered into the Guinness Book of Records. In the air, the apparatus, equipped with ion and gas-jet engines, lasted seven days, during which he took pictures of the Earth’s surface. The main problem that the developers faced was the high atmospheric resistance, which led to the rapid destruction of the apparatus, so TSUBAME was made of oxidation-resistant materials.
“I think that we were able to create this unprecedented satellite capable of supporting orbit at extremely low altitude, thanks to the systematic and fundamental technologies that we possess for the development and operation of artificial satellites, including our many years of experience with the ion engine, and also due to the high level of science and the equipment we have in Japan, ”said Sasaki Masanori, project manager.
Now JAXA plans to begin creating a series of such devices. Their use will allow scientists and researchers from all over the world to receive detailed images of the Earth, the quality of which significantly exceeds the currently available.