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NASA Australia Space Science

NASA Astronomers To Observe Hayabusa's Fiery Homecoming 142

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-back-hotter dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA said that a group of its astronomers will have a front row seat in Australia to watch the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa's high-speed, fiery return to Earth. It is bringing with it a hunk of the asteroid Itokawa. The spacecraft is expected to land in an unpopulated area of Australia at approximately midnight locally, or 7 am PDT, on Sunday, June 13. Some 30 NASA astronomers will be flying onboard a specially equipped DC-8 with instruments that can monitor Hayabusa's reentry."
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NASA Astronomers To Observe Hayabusa's Fiery Homecoming

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  • Actually... (Score:5, Informative)

    by fauxhemian (1281852) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:20PM (#32518374)
    JAXA is not at all certain that it is bringing a "hunk" or much at all of Itokawa back with it. The firing mechanism which was meant to fire a bullet into the asteroid malfunctioned. They're just hoping it picked up enough residue. After the various mishaps this spacecraft encountered, it's been a good effort to get it home.
  • Re:Home again! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @09:16PM (#32518822) Homepage Journal

    Though I recall that when the vehicle bounced off the asteroid the operators had no idea whether it had collected material from the surface and it is likely they still don't know.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @09:19PM (#32518840)

    Hmmm... hate to answer my own question, but the details of the trajectory are here: http://www.isas.jaxa.jp/e/enterp/missions/hayabusa/trj.shtml#new
    Looks like Western Australia should get a glimpse as it flies past, although I don't think you'd see it from Perth - would have to be a fair bit north of there I'd imagine... maybe somewhere in between Carnarvon and Karratha?

  • by l2718 (514756) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @09:48PM (#32519004)
    There's an important point to the re-entry process, separate from the asteroid sample: the craft will be coming at interplanetary speed (about escape velocity from Earth) -- is much faster than typical re-entries from Earth-orbit. Seeing if the heat-shielding technology will work is important for future missions around the solar system.
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:15PM (#32519208) Homepage Journal

    There's an important point to the re-entry process, separate from the asteroid sample: the craft will be coming at interplanetary speed (about escape velocity from Earth) -- is much faster than typical re-entries from Earth-orbit. Seeing if the heat-shielding technology will work is important for future missions around the solar system.

    Yeah I suppose so but the Galileo entry probe entered Jupiter at 45km/s or so and it survived okay. Designing a heat shield is really just a question of how much energy vs how thick to make it.

  • Re:Hayab USA! (Score:5, Informative)

    by meerling (1487879) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:23PM (#32519650)
    Considering they lost one of the shuttles and it's ENTIRE FUCKING CREW due to A HEAT SHIELD FAILURE, it seems that taking advantage of any available research opportunity into heat shielding is A GOOD IDEA!

    Maybe you don't like NASA spending money on space.
    After all, we don't know what gains we'll get from it.
    Now that may be true, but then again, they've got a really good 'payback' rate, even if they aren't a profit center.
    You like your cellphones, your satellite or cable tv, weather reports and warnings, tons of materials, medicine, maths, electronics, and so many other things you could write a book about it, and people have, you really should thank NASA. Their contributions to the total knowledge and even applications of that knowledge is absolutely huge and in almost all fields of endeavor. (Except porn, I really don't think NASA has done anything on human sexuality in space, but I'm not sure of that.)

    So if you want to crawl back into your cave and ignore the contributions they made and ignore the even greater ones that can only come about if they are allowed to do that research you call "boondoggles", then just remember the reply Faraday gave when asked what use electricity was, he simply replied, "What use is a baby?".
  • Re:Home again! (Score:3, Informative)

    by FleaPlus (6935) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:34PM (#32519696) Journal

    Yesterday I came across a really neat English-sub version of a Japanese trailer, which I'm guessing is for a documentary about Hayabusa's dramatic journey. It's definitely worth a watch:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsQp9Zey27Y [youtube.com]

    There's also a much more surreal Japanese video depicting a cartoon version of Hayabusa as a cat with solar panel wings:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0Ey3dNeCeM [youtube.com]

    As I don't speak/read Japanese I'm not really sure what's happening in it though, other than that it's very strange.

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