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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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  • What rocks even more (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:10AM (#31938896)

    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!

  • Maybe? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:18AM (#31939050)
    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:49AM (#31939522)

    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.

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:05AM (#31940746)

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

  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:28PM (#31960202) Homepage

    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.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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