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Space Technology

Hayabusa Probe Arrives at Destination 157

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the we-dont-do-nearly-enough-probing dept.
david.given writes "The Japanese space probe Hayabusa has just arrived at its destination, the asteroid Itokawa, and is taking pictures. The largely autonomous ion-drive powered vehicle was launched in 2003 and was supposed to have arrived last year, but a solar flare damaged the solar panels causing a reduction in power. It will study the asteroid for two months before collecting a sample from the surface and departing for Earth, which it should reach in 2007. It's a pity that NASA's asteroid rover, which Hayabusa was going to drop off, got cancelled due to budgetry constraints..."
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Hayabusa Probe Arrives at Destination

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  • by millennial (830897) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:11AM (#13544116) Journal
    Will it use the magical firewheel of protection, or be followed by a hazy clone of itself that mimics its actions?
    /ryu hayabusa... ninja gaiden. ding.
  • by ReformedExCon (897248) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:12AM (#13544123)
    I am impressed by the Japanese mission:

    HAYABUSA's mission: to bring back samples from an asteroid and investigate the mysteries of the birth of the solar system.

    And I am sufficiently unimpressed by NASA's inability to even piggyback a rover with this. There is so much science to do that doesn't have to do with rocketry, that doesn't have to do with sending people into space, that doesn't have to do with spending billions on a boondoggle space program that is more concerned with keeping certain government vendors in the money rather than actually getting real science done.

    Mars Rovers: Good NASA
    Space Shuttle: Bad NASA
    Hubble ST: Good NASA
    ISS: NASA can't even send people up there to rendezvous

    I'm sure someone will want to say "what about that big ol' comet we blasted with our satellite. Did we get any samples back? Did we get anything new except maybe a little more practice at aiming our missiles? Not really.

    Hayabusa looks like it's going to be headed back to Earth with samples. Real science. I just wish it were Americans at the leading edge of scientific space exploration.
    • And I am sufficiently unimpressed by NASA's inability to even piggyback a rover with this. There is so much science to do...

      Well, peices of asteroids fall to Earth all the time. It is likely that most asteroid chunks found on Earth came originally from bigger asteroids that smacked into each other. Thus, Japan may be spending millions to get a peice of something that is already in our backyards.

      However, it is true that such samples would not be affected by the usual heat of reentry, and thus possibly offe
    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:39AM (#13544269) Homepage Journal
      Hate to break it to you, but in terms of failure rate, the Japanese space program is so far ahead of NASA it isn't even funny, yeah this one was successful, but overall the Japanese space program has been an expensive disaster. They have sent probe after probe after probe only to have them destroyed, they struggle to get even a basic satellite in orbit.....
      NASA isn't perfect, but saying they are "behind" the Japanese space program is well, simply not true.
      • That probably isn't exactly fair to ISAS, which has merged with NASDA that was plagued with failure after failure with its H-I and II rockets. These institutions now form JAXA, instead.

        The ISAS's mu-series rocket has been fairly successful, except for a major failure of M-V rocket that carried ASTRO-E1 mission in 2000. So comparing NASA and ISAS is like apple-and-orange comparison that makes no sense, either.

        Hayabusa was launched by ISAS, FWIW.
      • You can track the performance of the various countries on the official PSL Scoreboard [anl.gov].
    • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:42AM (#13544298)
      You sir are clueless about "that big ol' comet we blasted". you can learn just about everything you need to using spectroscopy, and we are examing the inner layers of the comet which required such an impact. Its one thing to bring back a small sample from the top and examine it, its another to evalute a comet as a larger piece and its interior. If you sent a rover to earth from some distant planet and only brought back a small sample, would it be right for them to assume that the whole world was ice, or water, or dirt, or filled with bacteria? Both missions will certainly tell us alot of things that we didn't know before, but NASA's mission is telling us a whole lot more about the composition and general structure. Japan's mission is a little more specific and narrow focused, which makes sense considering that space agencies typically know what others are working on (except for the chinese) so why duplicate work. One thing is for sure, if a comet is ever headed towards earth, NASA's mission brought us a whole lot closer to understanding how to neutralize the threat.

      Who said NASA'a space shuttle was bad? It is revolutionary, just expensive as hell and slightly ahead of its time, even more so then government projects like Arpanet were. As far as ISS goes, the only reason that thing is even in orbit is because of NASA. 6 space agencies claim to be apart of the project, but the only two that have ever done anything are the Russians and Americans. The Americans are also responsible for taking up just about every part of the station, the Russians took up 3. If NASA ever had trouble sending people up, it was simply because of red tape and senseless bureaucracy, the russians are a bit less worried about people dying. Everybody knocks NASA, but they are one of the few space agencies that does kickass things on a regular basis. Sure they could do something cool once and then never again and their saftey record could be perfect, but that isn't the point. Get your facts straight, the truth is that the majority of what we know about space is a as result of NASA. Of course the Russians deserve credit here too.
      Regards,
      Steve
      • Actually, we have NOT been able to examine the inner layers of the comet as we desired; the dust thrown up by the impact obscured the actual crater itsellf far too much, and Tempel 1 overtook the craft that was monitoring the picture.
      • Amazing (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I thought the GP's post was a brilliant troll, but then I read yours and saw how outclassed he really is.

        Who said NASA'a space shuttle was bad? It is revolutionary, just expensive as hell and slightly ahead of its time

        It's like watching Bobby Flay slice open a flounder. Elegant, deft, and just a little bit repulsive. Bravo!
      • You sir are clueless about "that big ol' comet we blasted". you can learn just about everything you need to using spectroscopy, and we are examing the inner layers of the comet which required such an impact. Its one thing to bring back a small sample from the top and examine it, its another to evalute a comet as a larger piece and its interior.

        This is very true. What would definitely be very cool is to loft a series of telescopes with all the requisite tech on board that would be sent to settle into Mart
    • It always all boils down to money. I don't know your age, but if you are over 50, then you may remember real money. They don't have it anymore, and yet, that's all they seem to talk about.

      I am less interested in the origins of the Universe, and more interested in mining the asteroids. It is very possible, that by mining the asteroids rather than the Earth, that our planet might be saved.

      There is the problem of gravitation, and the effect that might be had on the solar system by changing it's mass around. T
    • Yeah, and you know what they're going to do to those samples when they're returned?

      Run them through a spectroscope.
    • And I am sufficiently unimpressed by NASA's inability to even piggyback a rover with this.

      You misunderstood that completely. The problem wasn't that they couldn't, but that they felt there were more important places to spend their limited budget. How much do we really need lots of closeup pictures of an asteroid's surface? We (or rather the Japanese) are already getting a few closeup pictures and a sample. Will the extra data be worth the cost, or should it be spent on something like more instruments for

  • ..to get samples from any extra-terrestrial object, I think what is going to be most important out of this project is the ion-driven technology that propels the craft, as well as the re-entry capsule. Though it certianly might have been nice if they could have made the whole craft re-enterable; these things are far from cheap, and anything reusable goes a long way towards motivating people to supporting funding in NASA/JAXA.
    • Both those things have been done before. Ion propulsion is now fairly mature, and works well for some missions, but has its disadvantages (very low thrust, requires lots of power). Re-entry capsules date back to the 1950s.

  • by Stormwatch (703920) <<rodrigogirao> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:15AM (#13544140) Homepage
    ...did Hayabusa get his revenge? [classicgaming.com]
    • In 2005, a post mentioning Ninja Gaiden in a thread about something called "Hayabusa" is modded offtopic.

      The sense of geek culture is truly lost here. Or those of us who get it are just too old and too few.
  • by lheal (86013)
    The Japanese send a probe to an asteroid, and it's name is "Itokawa".

    Our probes always land on places with names like "Titan" and "XJ-344b".

    Obviously their technology is much more advanced than ours.
    • Typo (Score:3, Informative)

      by lheal (86013)
      "its name". Sorry.
    • How can that be, when we go to places that have _numbers_ right in the name?

      I mean, which sounds more scientific: "Engineering Building," or "Building 34/35"? The answer is, of course, neither, because they're both engineering buildings.

      Which, I guess, makes them engineerific. Or is it enginific? It can't be that, otherwise we'd say "scienteer."
    • Even in popular American mythology the planets are named things like P3X-403 [gateworld.net] ;)
  • From the post: "but a solar flare damaged the solar panels causing a reduction in power."

    And now that it's so very close to its target, we have another one [skyandtelescope.com] coming.
  • The asteroid 'Alma' is proving very difficult for said probe to destroy
  • by stevesliva (648202) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:33AM (#13544228) Journal
    This is great for everyone. Thank you Japan, and keep the photos coming. Best of luck with the sample return.

    As an aside, to Japanese spacecraft have particular trouble with solar flares? Or just horrible luck? Didn't they have a Mars probe stagger past that planet but not make orbit for about the same reasons?

    • The fact that their probe can undergo damage and continue the mission is impressive all by itself.
    • s an aside, to Japanese spacecraft have particular trouble with solar flares? Or just horrible luck? Didn't they have a Mars probe stagger past that planet but not make orbit for about the same reasons?

      Wiki link on Radiation Hardening [wikipedia.org]

      Basically, it's not just japan that has the problem, it's everyone. Anything in earth orbit is partially protected by the earths magnetic field. The other thing is that you have to be in the path of the flare, this probe was just unlucky. The mars rovers and others wou
  • Seems odd. (Score:5, Funny)

    by bluesoul88 (609555) <bluesoul @ t h e l e g e n d ofmax.com> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:46AM (#13544318) Homepage
    "A solar flare damaged the solar panels causing a reduction in power."

    Ah, powered by irony. Those Japanese are always on the cutting edge.
  • by craXORjack (726120) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:50AM (#13544344)
    It's a pity that NASA's asteroid rover, which Hayabusa was going to drop off, got cancelled due to budgetry constraints...

    By cancelling all these pork barrel projects the administration was able to give you a tax refund. I enjoyed my three hundred dollars. It paid for the gas for my huge honkin' SUV for a whole month. It would have been two months except that Dick and George's arab friends raised their prices. But at least all those refunds went to a good cause. If the democrats were still running things a lot of our disposable income would be going to cocaine farmers in South America. But we can rest assured that when the robed men that George Bush holds hands with collect our extra cash that they will do something good with it. I'll bet they have lots of charitable causes that they donate to. Yup, I hear those Saudi's give to lots of worthy organizations... So the next time you complain about not adding some expensive, experimental gadget to some japanese rocket just think for a second about where that money would come from and have a little sympathy for those poor millionaires who would have to cut back on single malt scotch and exotic asian hookers. And for what? So some scientists can drive a remote control car around on an asteroid. We don't need Science to tell us about the universe. Everything you need to know is in the GoOD Book. Want to know how the universe was created? Pick up a Bible and read. It's right there in the first chapter.

    • Oh come off it. In the current market, nobody has 'control' of prices -- they're set by the laws of supply and demand. Demand is huge right now mainly because the red Chinese economy is booming. Supply, meanwhile, can't be increased. The result is completely predictible to anybody who's taken high school economics: prices go up.

      When there's any blip in supply, as there was with the hurricane, supply actually drops and prices go up again.

      And, in fact, this is what you want -- if the prices were artifici
      • My prediction (which I hope is incorrect):

        Grandparent's paranoid rant will be moded "insightful" or "interesting" in no time.

        Parent's post, which is based in common sense, will probably be moded as "flamebait" or "troll" just as quickly.

        If you were looking for karma, you should've simply posted, "I hate Bush and think everything in Farenheit 9/11 is true".
      • I think you realize that I was using sarcasm. You should understand then that you are only arguing against what you perceive as my real message 'between the lines' so to speak. Therefore I cannot defend any specific statements I made. You on the other hand made statements that have some truth to them yet don't address the complexity of the situation and other statements that are not at all true.

        You understand the law of supply and demand but want to apply it everywhere. "When all you have is a hammer, every
        • WRT rationing, I was thinking more along the lines of what was done in the '70s, where even-numbered plates got to buy on even days and odd-numbered plates got to buy on odd days.

          I suppose that if one wanted to institute a huge government program to make centralized decisions about priorities, it'd be possible, although prone to error. I don't think such a program is necessary -- basic economic theory says that easily tradeable goods go to highest-value user.

          I'm not aware of the President's family being en
      • Oh come off it. In the current market, nobody has 'control' of prices -- they're set by the laws of supply and demand.

        Only indirectly, not quite so rigidly as you say.

        There don't exist any truly free-market economies in the world. For things like oil and the like, price is related to supply, but price is also related to things like perceptions about the supply.

        Market speculation (guessing about the outcomes of actual supply and demand) drives the prices as much as the actual supply do.

        When there's any bli

    • Damn it, I've got the mod points but I decided to post something before I read this -1 flamebait drivel. Now I regret wasting my chance!
    • The Planetary Society

      NASA Cancels Rover on Joint Japan-US Asteroid Mission

      November 3, 2000

      NASA has canceled the development of a miniature rover, which would have been part of the U.S. contribution to a Japanese mission to an asteroid in September, 2005. The primary reasons for the cancellation were rising costs and weight.

      A Previous President.
  • by austad (22163) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @01:04AM (#13544429) Homepage
    Actually, the probe would have been there much much sooner, but someone accidentally entered "up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, select, start" when they should have entered "up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, start".

    It's a common mistake. It's too bad it had to happen on the controls to this thing though.

    NASA has, however, licensed the control technology used on this probe. Unfortunately, they are unsure as to whether or not their current shuttle control systems have enough power to be able to take commands from the unit. Fortunately, when the engineers do something wrong, they will have the assurance of being able to grab the cord 1 foot up from the controls and smack it repeatedly into a cement basement floor with no damage.
  • ...welcome our robotic Japanese asteroid exploring probe overlords, even if they no longer carry NASA rovers. C'mon, laugh! At least I didn't mention Beowulf clusters or Soviet Russia.
  • It seems like these probes that study asteroids are really grasping at straws. What are we looking for in the asteroids? Are we looking for anything specific? Why are we looking for that? Etc. All knowledge is worth having but searching without a particular goal in mind is unlikely to get good results.
    • by Graymalkin (13732) * on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @01:35AM (#13544562)
      There's lots of good reasons to study deep space objects like asteroids and comets. Some of these are purely scientific while others are far more practical. Finding the exact composition of an asteroid for instance helps tell us where in the solar system it formed. Knowing where it began existance and comparing that position to its current one gives us clues on how the solar system has evolved from its accretion disk state. Studying asteroids up close also lets us test our theories on planetary formation, if an asteroid of a particular class is expected to have a particular composition and indeed does it lends weight to that formation theory. It also provides ground truth for other forms of observation and measurement.

      From a practical standpoint it is highly beneficial to know what asteroids are made out of. They're prime targets for space mining ventures at some point. Unlike materials mined from the Moon or Mars there's very little surface gravity to fight to get the material from the asteroid back to Earth. Hence it would be far easier to grab raw silicon or some such off a NEA and return it to Earth than get it off the Moon.

      It also pays off to practice sending craft to rendevous with deep space objects. While current missions are exploratory, at some point they might be defensive. If we see an Earth crossing comet or asteroid in enough time there's a good chance we can alter its trajectory or outright destroy it (if its small enough) if we can successfully put spacecraft in striking distance of it. It is desirable to have a lot of people well versed in that sort of mission. It's also another area where knowing the composition of such objects is useful. Knowing what would be needed to destroy or deflect such an object is much easier when you know how it is going to behave. A rocky dense asteroid will act far differently than a loosely clumped dustball when hit with a nuclear blast.
      • We already have asteroid samples in the form of meteorites. I suppose we have comet samples in the form of meteoritic dust grains.

        The funny thing is that the meteorites, stuff that falls to Earth, is judged to be mainly asteroids with the odd piece of Moon or Mars. Comets don't seem to generate meteorites, but they generate most of the meteors -- I guess comets are made of too small pieces or grains to make it all the way down without burning up.

        Is there anything we will learn from this asteroid that

        • We have meteorites which are great but they can only tell us about an object that already hit us. Much of these objects burned up in the atmosphere which leaves us with only the densest and toughest parts of the object to actually study. Was the whole object the same as the remainder left? Was the object originally composed of entirely different and unexpected classes of materials? These are questions more easily answered by studying intact objects before they've had a chance to slam into us.

          For instance, t
    • What are we looking for in the asteroids? Are we looking for anything specific? Why are we looking for that?

      I don't know what the Japanese scientists are looking for, but these things usually end up opening a portal to hell, releasing a 10,000 year old demon, accidently causing space pirates to avoid intergalatic space police capture, angering a perverted race of aliens with rather large tentacles bent on invading earth, or just plain old waking up something on monster island.

      Don't worry... Some young girl
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Communications from the Hayabusa probe suddenly and mysteriously fell silent after it returned this image http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cf/Godz illa.jpg [wikimedia.org].
  • motorbike (Score:2, Funny)

    by jlebrech (810586)
    That's one fast motorbike and a hell of a ramp.
  • from the we-dont-do-nearly-enough-probing dept.
    The difference between humans and alien-abductions: Aliens are just rumored to be , but we KNOW we are probing stuff, and in a very big way!
  • It will study the asteroid for two months before collecting a sample from the surface and departing for Earth

    The original press release was edited by the Japanese Government, the original version read as follows:

    It will study the asteroid for two months before awaking Godzilla.
  • All hail the Flying Toasters [www.jaxa.jp]!
  • From the article:

    HAYABUSA will not only gather samples but also observe the asteroid with various scientific devices and measures. For that purpose, it is equipped with a Telescope Wide-View Cameras and Light Detection and Ranging, as well as with a Near Infrared Spectrometer. It will also employ a hopping robot, which can move around on the asteroid's surface.

    A hopping robot? Sounds suspiciously like Looney Tunes. The big question is "Did they complete the programming so that it can steal the Explosive

  • We can put a Hayabusa on an Itokawa, but we still can't cure the common cold.

     
  • by Wizzy Wig (618399) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @01:30PM (#13548851)
    "The Japanese space probe Hayabusa has just arrived at its destination, the asteroid Itokawa, and is taking pictures." Will the Japanese tourist stereotypes never end?
  • I've heard talk about ion engines for a long time, but this is the first time I've heard of one actually being used. Of course, it's quite possible I haven't been paying attention... Does NASA use ion engines on its deep space probes? If not, is this a significant breakthrough? That is, are there notable advantages to ion propulsion over conventional rocket engines?
  • My Buddy has a Huyabusa 2002 1300cc and that thing can scream !!! He can stand it up doing 100MPH. I hear that the German's call the Huyabusa's (Suzuki GSXR 2002 1300) "The WidowMaker" I know this thing is poerfull, but who would have known they would take them to outer space.... LOL

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

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