ASTRO-F was successfully launched at 21:28 GMT on 21st February 2006 - we are now

AKARI (formally ASTRO-F) , is the second infrared astronomy mission of the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). AKARI will be dedicated for all-sky and large area surveys in the infrared, one of the primary objectives of the survey being to map the entire sky in 6 infrared bands from 9 to 180 µm with 2 focal plane instruments. AKARI will be the first such all sky infrared survey for more than 20 years and can be regarded as a super-IRAS.
Latest News on ASTRO-FThe latest news from AKARI can be found here
VIEW the AKARI launch here and find out what "AKARI" means
Further information about the AKARI mission can be found at the official Japanese ISAS site or the official ESA site for Open Time Users.

The All-Sky Survey will be published as the AKARI infrared source catalogues. In addition to the survey observations, AKARI will carry out thousands of dedicated pointed observations with both focal plane instruments. Deep imaging as well as spectroscopic observations are available. Two high-visibility regions, the North Ecliptic Polar (NEP) region and the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) will be observed intensively by the pointed observations. These surveys are operated by the AKARI Project in a similar vein to the All- Sky Survey. Many pointed observations are used for the legacy observations by the AKARI project team members. Such programmes are called as “Mission Programme”. In addition, a part of pointed observation opportunity will be open for the general users in Japan/Korea and ESA related countries.

With the AKARI surveys, great progress is expected in the fields of galaxy evolution, formation of stars and planets, dark matter and brown dwarfs. AKARI was launched with ISAS's M-V8 launch vehicle, into a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 750 km at 6:28 a.m. on February 22, 2006 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Uchinoura Space Center (USC), Japan

The AKARI project is run by the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) at the Insitute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in Japan. The European Space Agency (ESA) will supply a ground station operated by ESOC and will carry out the pointing reconstruction of the All-Sky Survey observations by ESAC. ESAC will also take care the user support for the European Open Time observing programmes. A consortium including The Open University, Imperial College University of London, University of Kent, Sussex University, and SRON-Groningen with University of Groningen (IKSG consortium) participates on the data reduction of the All-Sky Survey. Seoul National University representing the Korean community also joins the data reduction activity.