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Seven days after losing contact with the environmental research satellite Midori-2, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Friday it will shut down the satellite’s operations.

Staff at the agency, which operates under the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, lost contact with the satellite Saturday morning. The agency said it would be difficult to recover the satellite’s functions.

The agency said earlier that there may be a malfunction in the satellite’s power supply system, such as a solar battery panel, adding that the satellite will stop functioning if its power system fails.

“We deeply regret that we have destroyed international trust, as it was an international project,” remarked technology minister Takeo Kawamura.

The satellite was sent into space in December aboard Japan’s fourth HII-A rocket.

It was fitted with high-performance sensors developed by the National Space Development Agency of Japan and observation devices provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States and French Space Agency CNES.

Citing images taken by a radar telescope of a German research institute, Kawamura said the malfunction was “apparently not caused by a damaged paddle,” as in the breakdown of the Midori-1 satellite in 1997.

The agency was forced to abandon operations of the Midori-1 that year due to the breakdown.

The science and technology ministry said it will be forced to accelerate its plans to launch a new satellite and review global observation plans based on the Midori-2.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Yuriko Koike said her ministry would try to come up with alternate ways to proceed effectively with its environmental observation project.

The Environment Ministry installed a sensor tasked with monitoring the Earth’s ozone layer on the Midori-2.

Koike said her ministry will immediately set up a committee on environmental observation and may consider having a nonagency satellite carry the device, including one supplied by an international organization.

The ministry was forced to abort its observation project for the second time as a result of a satellite breakdown, with the Midori-1 having carried a similar device.

Satellite put in orbit

PLESETSK, Russia (Kyodo) A Japanese experimental satellite was successfully launched from the Plesetsk Space Center in northern Russia on Thursday, marking Japan’s first full-scale satellite launch in the country.

The satellite, Space Environment Reliability Verification Integrated System-1, or SERVIS-1, was carried aloft aboard a rocket built by Eurockot Launch Services, a Russo-German joint venture.

SERVIS-1 will orbit the Earth for two years.

While Japan had initially considered launching the satellite via its HII-A rocket, it shelved the plan amid cost and technical problems.

SERVIS-1 entered orbit at an altitude of about 1,000 km about 90 minutes after the rocket launch, officials said.

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