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Muses B (HALCA, VSOP, Haruka)

Muses B (HALCA) [ISAS]

HALCA (Highly Advanced Laboratory for Communication and Astronomy), a.k.a. VSOP (Very Large Baseline Interferometry Space Observatory Programme) or Muses-B, is the first astronomical satellite dedicated to Very-Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). It was launched on its maiden flight by ISAS's M-5 [KM-V1] launch vehicle from Kagoshima Space Center on 12 February 1997.

As suggested by its development name MUSES-B, the satellite is the second in the series of ISAS's Mu Space Engineering Satellites. Since the satellite's successful deployment, in particular the main reflector mesh, and the testing of new engineering technologies incorporated within it, such as the two-way communications link between the satellite and tracking stations, HALCA has been used for space VLBI observations.

The VSOP project allowed imaging of astronomical radio sources with a significantly improved resolution over ground-only observations. Specific scientific goals of the mission include:

  • High-Resolution Imaging of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)
  • Monitoring of Structural Changes in Superluminal Sources
  • Measurement of Proper Motion as a Function of Redshift in AGN
  • Distribution of Spot Sizes in OH Maser Sources
  • High-Resolution Imaging of Radio Stars

A follow up mission will be Astro G (VSOP 2) in 2012.

Nation: Japan
Type / Application: Radio Astronomy
Operator: ISAS
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Orbit: 574 km × 21401 km, 31.34
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Muses B (HALCA, VSOP, Haruka) 1997-005A 12.02.1997 Ka LP-M M-5 [KM-V1]


Further VSOP missions: