Just about everything that could go wrong happened to the Hayabusa mission, yet it still made it back to Earth while carefully protecting 1,500 precious samples from asteroid Itokawa’s surface.
Countries are scrambling to get to Mars in a good ol’ fashioned space race. But focus might be shifting to the red planet’s two moons. According to reports, Japan announced plans yesterday to bring its asteroid-probing technology to the tiny Martian satellites.
1999 JU3: It doesn't sound like a very noteworthy name. It's just one of more than 5,000 Apollo-class asteroids. But 1999 JU3 could become a household name if Japan succeeds in mining it—a mission that JAXA has struggled with for decades, often disastrously. And on Sunday, it revealed the probe that could redeem it.
You have to crawl before you can walk—be you a baby or an asteroid-blasting space cannon. Now, after a successful test-fire here on Earth, Japan's specially made cannon for its Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is ready to take its first, real steps in outer space.
Astronomers and space geeks the world over have been waiting to hear confirmation from JAXA (the Japanese space agency) that the troubled Hayabusa mission did indeed bring back samples of asteroid dust. Today they got it.
See that? It might be a dust particle from an asteroid! Or it might be a flake of dried skin from a man in the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency factory that built the Hayabusa probe. No one knows yet.
Two weeks ago, NASA released an insanely beautiful video of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft exploding over the Australian Outback. Turns out the video was planned and shot by a couple high schoolers from a NASA DC-8 aircraft. Feeling inadequate yet?
NASA captured the re-entry of Japan's troubled but still successful Hayabusa probe early this morning over Australia. The payload reportedly ejected without incident and parachuted to earth. What you see here is everything else going to hell (by design):