nature: The observatory, launched on 17 February, had been going through initial check-outs and calibrations. by Alexandra Witze
'Hitomi's status remains unknown as JAXA engineers work to re-establish communication. Ominously, the US Joint Space Operations Center, which tracks space debris, reported spotting five objects in the vicinity of the spacecraft around the time that it went silent. The centre characterized the objects as pieces of a “break-up”.
'The space debris could consist of minor pieces that were blown off Hitomi, as opposed to indicating complete destruction, says Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and space analyst at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
'International partners on the Hitomi project include NASA, the European Space Agency, the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and the Canadian Space Agency.'