Monday, 14 June 2010

Mining the sky... or a first step at least.

Monday, June 14, 2010

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After a seven year journey which was riddled with all kinds of trouble the Japanese space probe Hayabusa has returned its valuable cargo to the Earth.

Hayabusa at Itokawa.

It was launched in May 2003 on a sample return mission to asteroid 25143 Itokawa. Hayabusa was damaged by solar flares, reducing the effectiveness of its ion drives, had trouble with its reaction wheels and the MINERVA lander failed completely. During a tense three month period it even lost communications with Earth! But in the end Hayabusa still managed to complete the mission's main objective; to take a sample of the asteroid and return it to Earth.

The spacecraft reentered Earth's atmosphere at 1:51 GMT and the sample return capsule parachuted down into the Australian outback. Have a look below:

Don't worry, this is just the main spacecraft breaking up. The capsule ejected correctly and has been located by JAXA. Read more about the entire mission on Wikipedia.

Our first sample return mission from an asteroid. Pretty cool if you ask me!

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