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Space Australia Science

Japanese Spacecraft Bringing Back Space Rock 116

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the contaminating-the-planet dept.
phaic tan writes "Bridie Smith from the Sydney Morning Herald reports on the Hayabusa spacecraft returning to earth in June with samples from the Itokawa Asteroid: 'A Japanese spacecraft will land in Australia in June, bringing with it samples from an asteroid found 300 million kilometres from Earth. The unmanned Hayabusa spacecraft, launched in May 2003, will become the first spacecraft to bring asteroid material to Earth when it lands in Woomera, South Australia, later this year.'"
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Japanese Spacecraft Bringing Back Space Rock

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  • by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolus@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:05AM (#31938816) Homepage Journal
    ...rocks !
    • What rocks even more (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Is that Meatloaf has significant input into some of the software that went into that space craft. Say what you want about his music (its shit) but the guy has made many important contributions to both the Linux kernel and also more academic code as this. The guy deserves more credit!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by lxs (131946)

        First Brian May, now Meatloaf?
        Is astrophysics mandatory for classic rock legends? What's next? Will Robert Plant drop his Aleister Crowley obsession in favor of studying the Pioneer anomaly?

        • Will Robert Plant drop his Aleister Crowley obsession in favor of studying the Pioneer anomaly?

          That would be quite the unexplained deviation of trajectory for Mr. Plant. Whether he is unmanned or not is up for debate. Has he been doing any ED ads yet?

          • by lxs (131946)

            Crowley did write:
            We place no reliance
            on Virgin or pigeon,
            our method is science
            our aim is religion

            Is Meat Loaf really a kernel hacker?

      • by hcpxvi (773888) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:59AM (#31939694)
        Would someone care to explain this Meatloaf/Linux Kernel slashmeme for the benefit of an old codger who is entirely missing the cultural reference? Oh, and yes, I did google it before posting this.
        • by insnprsn (1202137)
          +1 for this, explanation please?
        • It's a meme? That's the first I've heard of it. Maybe because this is the first time someone modded it interesting (I bump up Interesting and Informative by a point for the filter). I suppose people do it for the same reason the like inserting false facts into Wikipedia, trolling for giggles, but I'll admit this is an unusually odd manifestation. Choosing Meatloaf (over any other public figure) has the advantage of getting Google really confused; it doesn't know the difference between the person and the foo
        • Would someone care to explain this Meatloaf/Linux Kernel slashmeme for the benefit of an old codger who is entirely missing the cultural reference? Oh, and yes, I did google it before posting this.

          Meatloaf has contributed some driver code, I think it was the winmodems, under at least two different pseudonyms. Of course, "Meatloaf" is itself a pseudonym!

          • by BranMan (29917)

            Would someone care to explain this Meatloaf/Linux Kernel slashmeme for the benefit of an old codger who is entirely missing the cultural reference? Oh, and yes, I did google it before posting this.

            Meatloaf has contributed some driver code, I think it was the winmodems, under at least two different pseudonyms. Of course, "Meatloaf" is itself a pseudonym!

            Care to elaborate with more details? It's very cool if true (not that I'm all that doubting. Stranger things have been true. Actress and pinup LeMar worked on developing acoustically guided torpedoes in WWII).

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by dotancohen (1015143)

              Being a high-tech field and competitive field, musicians are always in the need of the cutting edge. Quite a few musicians have either directly or indirectly contributed to kernel or application code, either through paying for development or getting right down and coding it themselves. The Meatloaf code may or may not have been actually coded by him, though that is how people like to say it.

              The other high-tech artist's field is movie production, and they contribute code as well.

    • ...rocks !

      No doubt! I mean I though those Hayabusa Smart cars were cool, but this is Awesome!

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, it locks.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        lacist
    • Re:Now that.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by couchslug (175151) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:30AM (#31939242)

      The more we can do without sending humans to do it in person, the faster exploration will progress.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The more we can do without sending humans to do it in person, the longer it will take before we colonize other planets.

        In my opinion eploration by itself has very little value unless we use the knowledge we gain. If we don't intend to put more humans in space I don't really see any big reason to put more robots in space.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blair1q (305137)

          We need to know more before sending humans because if a colony of humans dies determining the hundred reasons that colonizing that spot is impossible then it's as though you were simply gambling lives for your own amusement.

          Really, unless the exploring humans luck into somewhere they can take off their helmets and gloves and physically interact with the environment, they might as well be here watching it on TV.

          • Re:Now that.... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by element-o.p. (939033) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:05PM (#31942738) Homepage

            Really, unless the exploring humans luck into somewhere they can take off their helmets and gloves and physically interact with the environment, they might as well be here watching it on TV.

            Gotta disagree with you there. Given the choice of walking on the moon in helmet and gloves or watching a robot crawl across the moon on T.V., I'd much rather be in the helmet and gloves actually on the moon. Even HD and 5.1 surround sound can't capture all the experience of actually being there.

            • by Laser Dan (707106)

              Given the choice of walking on the moon in helmet and gloves or watching a robot crawl across the moon on T.V., I'd much rather be in the helmet and gloves actually on the moon. Even HD and 5.1 surround sound can't capture all the experience of actually being there.

              True, but you aren't going there unless you are an astronaut. The choice is between one manned mission, where you get to watch a couple of people walk around and do some experiments, or 5-10 unmanned missions which achieve a lot more.

              If the unmanned missions can analyse potential colony sites and deploy some infrastructure, manned missions can follow and you may eventually have a chance to live in an offworld site.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by phaic tan (855655)
              Completely agree. There are many advantages to exploring in person.You can't make split second decisions with a remote probe when communication lags are in the spans of minutes. The success or faliure of a mission can be totally dependent on being able to make the right move at the right time.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by couchslug (175151)

          People tend to confuse "using the knowledge we gain" with "sending humans quickly".

          That was fine in terrestrial exploration when men and ships were throwaways. There is a silly emotional need to lead with flesh when the technology we (absolutely) require (anyway) for humans to exploit their environment is not mature. Remote-manned tech, be it distant-manned on Earth or closely-manned onsite, is still remote-manned.

          We are sending humans for their own amusement, not because they are useful to the process. At

          • by lwsimon (724555)

            With the exception of colonization, which is (in my estimation) 50 years of dedicated research away, you're right.

      • by rwa2 (4391) *

        Sounds cool... how long before we can start mining the stuff?

        It would be neat to be able to start hijacking mineral and ice asteroids into LEO and start figuring out how to process the material from them so we don't have to spend so much resources launching mass up from the Earth. I'd say this is probably a pretty important first step in commercializing the space industry, beyond simply ferrying satellites or creating space hotels. Plus it's compartively low risk (other than getting attacked by astrologer

        • ...just build some thrusters to harvest small asteroids and park them in Earth orbit;

          Right idea, wrong implementation. You send the harvesters to the asteroids, and then ship the water/ice to the various fuel depots. Why move the entire asteroid around when all you need is the ice?
      • by mbone (558574)

        History is against you. The 10 years (1962-1972) of manned space exploration has never been matched by unmanned probes. Partly this is capabilities, partly this is politics, but the experiment has been tried and the results are against you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vtcodger (957785)

          ***History is against you. The 10 years (1962-1972) of manned space exploration has never been matched by unmanned probes.***

          With the notable exception of the return of lunar material during the Apollo program, most important research has been done with unmanned devices -- Viking, Spirit, Hubble etc. In a sane environment, what Skylab 1973-1974 would have established was that there was very little need or use for humans in space -- at least in the 20th Century and probably well into the 21st as well. Inst

      • by izomiac (815208)
        It depends on what you view as exploration. If you care about mapping the universe, finding out relative concentrations of various elements, and building better probes, then unmanned exploration is the best choice. If you care more about more literally "traveling somewhere in search of discovery", developing human-oriented technology, or learning more about biology then manned exploration is better. Plus, of things that are intrinsically useless, which stimulates the human mind more, knowing the mineral
  • by Orga (1720130) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:06AM (#31938836)
    Picked another big island at least.. you know, in case the blob needs to be isolated. Al though I'd think if they landed in Japan at least Godzilla could melt it if it got too large. Oh well.
  • They used the fly-fly machine to bring sky hard-things to the big blue room's floor!

  • by 0racle (667029)
    It's been done.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    with the destruction of Tokyo by a giant lizard or mecha.

  • Maybe? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_rock [wikipedia.org] Maybe this will put an end to the pop music craze.
  • by adosch (1397357) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:20AM (#31939086)

    Anyone catch the doomsday paragraph at the end FTFA:

    ''If we're on a collision course with an asteroid we need to know if they are rock-solid or if they are piles of rubble,'' he said. ''That will help us predict how best to deal with them.''

    ...how many sinister space asteroid scares have we had in the past decade claiming utter calamity on the earth? I''m not claiming conspiracy theory on this one (so stay in your caves, trolls!) but it'll be cool to see what kind of composition and materials are uncovered on that thing; because it would be good to know. It's nice to get good, "rock" solid evidence to back up a lot of theories and guessed accuracies of our solar system that are mostly data interpreted facts and not visual or tangible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MoeDrippins (769977)

      Was that quote in reference to THIS asteroid? If you'll pardon the paraphrasing, i.e., "If we're on a collision course with this asteroid...", vs. "This experiment is a valuable technology and skillset to have, so if we find some as-yet unfound asteroid in the future with which we are on a collision course, we may repeat this process to find out its composition..." ? I read it as the latter, but I'm hardly a yardstick for understanding.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by durrr (1316311)
      The quote doesn't say anything about calamity.
      If you read between the lines you'd also realize we are on collision course with an asteroid fragment thanks to this mission, it will hit Woomera, South Australia, later this year if nothing is done to prevent it. I suggest we hit it with all our nukes after touchdown, that saves us the trouble of hitting a moving target.
  • Space rock? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Delusion_ (56114) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:22AM (#31939128) Homepage

    Oh, physical rocks. I thought at first this was about Acid Mothers Temple, the other Japanese Space Rock.

    • Japanese Space Rock? That genre exists? Great, there goes another day of productivity in the name of researching something totally badass sounding. This better not disappoint.
  • Dangerous (Score:3, Funny)

    by vvaduva (859950) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:44AM (#31939428)

    What if the asteroid contains a dangerous life form? Don't these people watch any sci-fi movies?

    • Beware the bugs! [imdb.com]
    • by rickb928 (945187)

      People say WE are a dangerous life form. So far, so good. We could be doing a LOT worse.

    • by jpmorgan (517966)

      That's fine, it's welcome to have a go on a planet covered by dangerous life forms.

    • by rah1420 (234198)

      First thing I thought of was Scoop. [imdb.com] And not that icky new version [imdb.com] either. Saw that and cringed. Give me my frickin' lasers in the central core.

      • Me too. i met paula kelly backstage after her LA performance in "dont bother me i cant cope" when the director of andromeda strain visited her to discuss her upcoming role. the director and producer took me and my dad out for drinks (i was 11), and the producer ordered me a horses neck. saw robert wises oscar, and watched a bad movie at his malibu beach mansion movie theatre ("public eye", from the 70's). andromeda strain rocks, and not just cause im a frickin insider.

  • You have just doubled your achievements! Your list now read:
    1. Rotary Washing Line
    2. First spacecraft to bring asteroid material to Earth

    Wait.. It was Japanese. Sorry. I guess it's still the rotary washing line for now :(

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't they also hold the record of most different horrible ways to die by nature?

    • by M-RES (653754)
      You forgot the Ute (pronounced 'yoot')... aka pickup. ;)
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Louis Pasteur invented Aussie beer but we at least invented the fridge to keep it in :)
    • rsync [samba.org]
      Samba [samba.org]
      and of course this little gem [abc.net.au]

      I expect at least one follow-up WOOOSH! post but I derive pleasure from putting smartarses in their place.
  • Will massive beer consumption save the Aussie populace!?
  • Being able to acquire materials from space will be required. You can't explore space in a vacuum. LoL. Obama... to little to late.

  • Any illegal aliens that come along with the spacerocks will be placed in Woomera Detention Centre for at least six months and then blasted back into outer space while the whales cry for them.
  • They've been wandering around there lately.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Last time I heard, the japanese had lost contact with the spacecraft when it was near the asteroid after MAYBE taking samples. They had given up and declared the mission a failure. I must've missed something here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mbone (558574)

      Yes, you missed a lot. They recovered it and are getting back, after a real "Perils of Pauline" type adventure.

  • Let's hope some farmer doesn't find the spacecraft and crack it open...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:11AM (#31939876)

    There have been *so* many technical problems with this mission, such as failure of reaction wheels, loss of the rover during deployment, damage to the solar cells by a flare, loss of attitude and communications due to a fuel leak, and so on. The mission timeline [wikipedia.org] reads like "And then this broke, and we managed to fix it. And then this, and we fixed that. And ..." Yet they are getting close to pulling off the main goals of the mission (sample return). A failure of the sampling procedure probably means they've got a bit of dust rather than the larger pieces they were hoping for, but it's better than nothing! And the pictures and other data the probe has returned are very cool [isas.jaxa.jp]. The asteroid is a "rubble pile", which had been speculated for many asteroids, but not directly seen before.

    The engineers and scientists that are running the mission deserve a lot of credit for keeping this thing going despite the problems (the contractors that built it, not as much :-)).

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:25AM (#31940134) Homepage Journal
    If I recall correctly, the Hayabusa spacecraft MIGHT have samples on it from the asteroid. Then again, it might not. The Hayabusa was originally designed to hover above the surface of the asteroid and fire a pellet into the surface, causing an ejection of material that the probe would then collect in a sample box. However, the probe has been having propulsion issues, amongst other things, and was required to land on the surface of the asteroid rather than hover above it. This, of course, was an achievement in itself. However, upon landing, the probe's pellet ejection system failed and no surface material was displaced forcibly. As I understand it, researchers are hoping that some dust or something settled into the sample collection bin. However, at this time, there is no certainty that it will contain anything.

    The most fascinating part about this mission, however, was the fact that it was using four plasma thrusters to steadily propel it to its destination. To my knowledge, this is the first time such technology has been used as the primary propulsion source for a mission. Even more fascinating is that three of the four thrusters failed and, as of now, one functioning thruster is a jury rigged hack job that they got working by using the control systems from one failed thruster and the thruster and propellant from a second. That said, Hayabusa has been an absolute testament to the tenacity and creativity in problem solving of JAXA. It has been an exciting mission, and I am very much looking forward to finding out just how lucky the unlucky probe has been in collecting dust bits from the asteroid.
  • The point of this endeavor was to determine if this a true asteroid or a planet-bomb sent by the Gamilons in their attempt to kill us.

    If it's just an asteroid, no harm, no foul. But if it's a planet bomb, then we need to get the Argo ready to take off and begin its long journey to Iscandar even though Queen Starsha sent us plans for the wave motion engine but couldn't send us plans for the Cosmo DNA device.

    Of course, maybe the LHC is really the first stage in the production of the wave motion gun and all o

  • So the Japanese sent a motorcycle in space to bring back an asteroid?
  • I thought this was going to be an article about J-Pop. I guess "Space Rock" isn't really coming back in Japan.

  • Maybe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:03AM (#31940708)

    There is no actual guarantee that there is a sample in the chamber (as the pellets misfired).

    It's a remarkable achievement to get it back; let's hope that there is something inside.

  • ... to look pretty stupid when the sample's mother shows up to claim revenge. Didn't these people watch the original "Star Trek" series?
  • Jordy Verill, you lunkhead!
  • I have this feeling I can't shake that everyone near where this thing lands is going to die from some unknown infection except for the babies and drunks.
  • Drat! From the headline, I thought this mission was kicking off a new wave of music in the spirit of the Flaming Lips [amazon.com].
  • The innovation minister, Kim Carr, said the spacecraft will land within the 130,000 square kilometre Woomera Prohibited Area,

    Man, we need an innovation minister too! Finally a minister role that I can sympathize with!

  • Is that a Hawkwind tribute band?
  • It sounds like a hell of an achievement, given all the stuff that went wrong. I presume that much of this was recorded, so...

    Anyone know if there's (going to be) a documentary movie of some sort? I'd call it "The Little Engine that Could". Oh wait...

  • it's quite sad and telling that the only use for research the Australian 'innovation minister' finds is how to destroy something.

    in this light, I wonder what they have against 'scientific whale hunting' by the Japanese...

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