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Japan asteroid probe to make historic return to Earth

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posted on Jun, 12 2010 @ 08:27 PM

A TINY heatproof capsule which scientists hope contains some of the oldest dust in the universe will streak back to Earth and land in the Australian desert today, ending a historic space mission.

Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft is due to re-enter Earth's atmosphere shortly before midnight, completing a seven-year, five-billion-kilometre (three-billion-mile) journey to an ancient far-flung asteroid.

The car-sized probe became the world's first spacecraft to land on and lift off a celestial body other than the moon after touching down on Itokawa, a "rubble-pile" asteroid 300 million kilometres distant, in September 2005.

If the landing is successful, Hayabusa will be the first space mission to have made physical contact with an asteroid and returned to Earth.

Its on-board devices showed Itokawa was between "several tens of millions and hundreds of millions" years old, and had broken away from an ancient celestial body formed in the Solar System's most primitive stages.
I found this story pretty's interesting though, that they speculate the asteroid was part of an ancient celestial body...and the mission was to collect surface material from this broken away piece if I'm not mistaken...they were worried about the first missions to the moon allowing hazardous microbial lifeforms on the moon to get onto Earth...I wonder if they're concerned about such a thing in this case...

The article also states:

Described by NASA scientists as a "man-made meteor", the spacecraft will glow several times brighter than Venus and appear to skygazers as a luminous shooting star as it melts.
So...don't anyone go mistaking it as a UFO and posting it on ATS...

posted on Jun, 12 2010 @ 09:43 PM
That is cool! S&F I really hope it makes it back, seems like Japan and China are putting the most money into their space programs.

posted on Jun, 12 2010 @ 11:53 PM
I hope the probe has a good landing. I remember one several years back (I forget who launched it now) but it had a whole bunch of samples on it, and when it entered the atmosphere, something went wrong, and most of the samples got spilled out. They got strewn all over the place and likely contaminated
I'm really hoping that this probe makes it down successfully.

posted on Jun, 13 2010 @ 12:58 AM
reply to post by DragonsDemesne

Yes, that certainty wouldn't be good, especially if the probe has collected some sort of microbial life.

posted on Jun, 13 2010 @ 02:28 PM
Looks like it's mission accomplished for the Hayabusa team

But there are doubts as to whether it caught any asteroid fragments due to a mechanism malfunction at the moment it was supposed to pick up the fragments

The capsule will not be approached until daylight hours. "Tomorrow (Monday) or day after tomorrow, we will pick up the capsule itself. Maybe there is some powder or some sample in it," said Yoshiyuki Hasegawa, the associate executive director of Jaxa.

posted on Jun, 13 2010 @ 11:50 PM
reply to post by gortex

Thank you for the update.


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