JAXA Set Guinness World Record For Lowest Orbiting Satellite

The JAXA SLATS satellite has set the record for the lowest altitude by an Earth observation satellite in orbit.
Image credit: JAXA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has set the Guinness World Record for the “lowest altitude by an Earth observation satellite in orbit”.

Launched aboard a home-grown H-IIA rocket on December 21, 2017, the Super Low Altitude Test Satellite (SLATS) first maintained an orbital altitude of 271.5 kilometers. Ground crews then gradually lowered its orbit finally reaching the Guinness-World-Record-setting 167.4-kilometer altitude.

According to a December 24 JAXA press release, at this super low altitude, the Earth observation satellite was exposed to 1,000 times more atmospheric resistance and concentrated atomic oxygen than its traditional low Earth orbit counterparts. To counteract the effects of these two forces, the satellite utilised an ion engine system and gas-jet thrusters.

SLATS maintained the 167.4-kilometer orbit for a period of seven days. During this time, it was able to capture high-resolution images despite the harsh conditions. In addition to the images captured by the satellite, it also acquired atmospheric and atomic oxygen density data, and readings on the effect of atmospheric conditions on material samples.

The Guinness World Record-breaking SLATS satellite remained operation until October 1, 2019 following which it was decommissioned.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.