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NASA Space Science

No Samples On Japan's Hayabusa Asteroid Probe 147

Posted by kdawson
from the one-long-fezzle dept.
eldavojohn writes "Reports are coming in that JAXA's Hayabusa probe may have come up empty-handed in its bid to collect asteroid matter. There may be gas in the probe but no dust samples as many hoped. Murphy's Law seemed to ride with Hayabusa. 'After landing in 2005 on the Itokawa asteroid, which is about one-third mile long and shaped like a potato, the probe's sample-capture mechanism went awry. To the public's dismay, JAXA officials said they were not sure whether any samples had been collected. Next, the probe's robotic rover, meant to take photos and temperature readings on the asteroid, inexplicably floated off into space and was never heard from again. Worse yet, after Hayabusa took off from the asteroid, all four of NEC's ion engines shut down. So did all 12 of the chemical-fueled rocket engines made by another space industry giant, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The probe was left drifting in space. Then, for more than seven weeks, for reasons still not clear, there were no communication signals from the probe. Public dismay quickly turned to derision and, eventually, indifference.' The probe did return, however, and JAXA hoped to salvage something, but now it appears that the only thing it accomplished was one long and error-prone journey."
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No Samples On Japan's Hayabusa Asteroid Probe

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  • sad news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:01AM (#32771900) Homepage Journal
    If this is true it is very sad news. This probe had a lot of promise, and it's failure is to be regretted. Let's hope that JAXA is not put off trying other missions of this type...they deserve our support.
    • by xaxa (988988) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:16AM (#32772072)

      The collection of samples was a bonus. The actual purpose of the mission was to test the ion-drive, which was fully successful as they ran for more than 1000 hours.

      See here [wikipedia.org] for the mission milestones -- note that all the things above 100 points are a bonus.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        And was the floating-off of the rover also part of the mission? I can just imagine the Pixar movie of this:
        "Rover! Rooooover! Come back!"
        "I can't Busa. It's too late. Goodbye, goodbye..... Boy I hope space is kind to me."

      • Worse yet, after Hayabusa took off from the asteroid, all four of NEC's ion engines shut down.

        What were you saying about "fully successful" again?

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          If we're being technically correct - the best kind of correct - GP did say that the test was successful, not strictly that the engines were.
    • Re:sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:33AM (#32772262) Journal

      Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

      - T. Roosevelt

      • Re:sad news (Score:5, Funny)

        by camperdave (969942) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:23AM (#32773808) Journal
        Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

        Far better it is to dare not mighty things, to live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat, than to rank with those poor spirits whose live lives checkered by failure, who suffer much because they live in the futile hope of winning glorious triumphs. - Eric the Bland
    • Let's hope that JAXA is not put off trying other missions of this type...they deserve our support.

      Why? If it was one or two component failures or a bad situation, that would be one thing- but virtually every system malfunctioned or never worked in the first place.

      There is little to account for that except gross incompetence, and people who are grossly incompetent deserve to be fired, not "supported"- or at the very least, not given the same job again.

      • I'd love to point out the manufacturer's label reads: "Japan" - But the benefit of the doubt comes from one crucial fact: Experience. On the evolutionary scale we are basically babies on the space exploration front.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tekfactory (937086)

        Thankfully the Japanese don't see it that way.

        In an American company when something goes wrong, somebody is fired.

        In a Japanese company when something goes wrong, they try to figure out what went wrong and fix it som that doesn't happen again. Explains why they overtook the US auto industry so quickly. Also explains how they turned a feudal agricultural economy in the 1800s to an industrial one only 30 years later.

        Also NASA does the same thing, when a problem occurs, they look for the problem in the process

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by fataugie (89032)

          So what you're saying is....in a few short years because of this error-ladden mission, we should be flying to work Jetson's style, thanks to the Japanese?

          • by Abcd1234 (188840)

            So what you're saying is....in a few short years because of this error-ladden mission, we should be flying to work Jetson's style, thanks to the Japanese?

            Precisely. Also, those cars will fold up into briefcases, and we'll all have talking dogs.

            Next question?

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            Yes. There's a similar story in "The Gold Plated Porsche". Porsche is (was) a small car company. Doors, trunks, hoods etc would occasionally not fit properly during final fitting. They would get driven out to a lot and a team of "experts" would go over them and hammer on them with a rubber mallet until all the parts fit more or less correctly. Porsche advertised this fact and billed Porsches as being hand built. Toyota doesn't have these fixit lots. Toyota took one look at this lot on the Porsche factory c

        • by Hylandr (813770)
          Better than Russian!

          When something goes wrong you get killed! ( Or used to )

          - Dan.
        • I agree with you. JAXA now knows where things can be wrong, and cand now fix that on the future missions.
        • In an American company when something goes wrong, somebody is fired.

          In a Japanese company when something goes wrong, they try to figure out what went wrong and fix it som that doesn't happen again. Explains why they overtook the US auto industry so quickly. Also explains how they turned a feudal agricultural economy in the 1800s to an industrial one only 30 years later.

          From another comment... [slashdot.org]

          In the Japanese culture, it's bad to say you can't do something, or to admit failure. Silly as it sounds to us westerners, instead of saying outright "no" they use mushy words to avoid losing face.

          Are both those reads really right? It's possible that Japan perhaps has a healthy corptocracy where each organization takes care of its own, and maintains an unapologetic front externally. It does sound more likely to me, however, that Japan really isn't as tolerant of failure as most other developed countries.

        • Explains why they overtook the US auto industry so quickly.

          No, that's because the Japanese had spent the better part of the 60s perfecting small, reliable, fuel-efficient automobiles on a protected domestic market. Just in time for the oil crisis of the 70s.

          Also explains how they turned a feudal agricultural economy in the 1800s to an industrial one only 30 years later.

          No, that was the Meiji Restoration.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ubermiester (883599) *

          In an American company when something goes wrong, somebody is fired. In a Japanese company when something goes wrong, they try to figure out what went wrong and fix it som that doesn't happen again.

          I understand that there are a lot of pissed off unemployed people out there, but let's stop with the US bashing please. American tech companies are among the most efficient and successful in the world - Intel, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, J&J, Boeing, 3M, etc, etc, etc, etc. And though the US auto manufactures started to bloat in the 1970's, Ford at least has become more efficient than ever. (BTW, Toyota is not exactly at the peak of its powers at the moment).

          There is always room for improvement and I'm

        • Also NASA does the same thing, when a problem occurs, they look for the problem in the process that allowed the defect to get to production.

          I wish they had applied that methodology to ARES. Seriously, a launch vehicle that can't even lift into orbit the very capsule it's designed to launch? Something definitely went wrong there.
      • by achurch (201270) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:03AM (#32772654) Homepage

        Of course things are going to go wrong. They in fact succeeded at their primary objective, which was to run the ion engines for 1,000 hours; everything beyond that is a bonus. If anything, the engineers involved ought to be praised for being able to work around all those problems and get the thing back to Earth.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Then since you're incompetent at judging the success of a space probe mission, you should not be surprised to hear that you've been fired from commenting on the internet.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        The article summary was quite harshly worded against Hayabusa.

        If you read some of the links provided by another commenter, the basic standard for mission success was whether the ion drives worked continuously for 1000 hours, which they did. It was the first time that such a drive had EVER been used in a probe for any mission.

        The mini-lander was experimental by nature, and even by name. Shit happens, sometimes experiments are a success, sometime they are a failure. That's the whole point of an experiment

      • by necro81 (917438)

        There is little to account for that except gross incompetence

        There is nothing routine about spaceflight, and there are innumerable things that cannot be controlled for that can ruin a flight. People are always amazed at the redundant systems and awesome engineering that goes into spacecraft, but there is only so much redundancy, fault tolerance, and testing that one can do before you end up with a craft that is either too heavy or too expensive to fly.

        I for one am willing to give these guys a pass,

        • I always wonder how many of these failed space missions would have gone better if there was a little man or a robot or something that could crawl around on the probe and press the reset button or hit the solar panel unfolding motor with a hammer a few times to get it to finish opening up...

          We need to start inventing more intelligent or easy to control microrobots that can do that grunt work that a person could do to keep the systems running good ;)

      • by Hylandr (813770)

        Let's hope that JAXA is not put off trying other missions of this type...they deserve our support.

        Why? If it was one or two component failures or a bad situation, that would be one thing- but virtually every system malfunctioned or never worked in the first place.

        There is little to account for that except gross incompetence, and people who are grossly incompetent deserve to be fired, not "supported"- or at the very least, not given the same job again.

        Further Above:

        The collection of samples was a bonus. The actual purpose of the mission was to test the ion-drive, which was fully successful as they ran for more than 1000 hours.

        See here [wikipedia.org] for the mission milestones -- note that all the things above 100 points are a bonus.

        I would call the probe a raging success.

        Getting there was much more of a feat than what was planned to happen once it arrived. The EVA thing has been done before.

        - Dan.

      • by Myopic (18616)

        You are absolutely right, assuming good workers never make mistakes, and people can't learn from failure.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by delinear (991444)
          Also assuming there is a large enough pool of people who are experienced at building technology to land on and collect samples from comets to replace the current crop with, otherwise you've no guarantee the replacements won't be as bad but without the benefit of real experience.
      • I disagree: "I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work." --Thomas Edison

        Yes, Hayabusa was plagued by a number of failures and setbacks. However, IIRC, JAXA is still relatively new to the space game, and rocket science is, well, rocket science. Space is much harsher environment than most of us living in basements will ever realize. The fact that JAXA kept Hayabusa going despite the failures is *anything* but incompetent. As another poster mentioned, look at the Hayabusa p [wikipedia.org]
    • "There's your problem, 'Made in Japan'!"
      • "Hey look, Homer's got one of those robot cars."

        [CRASH]

        "...One of those American robot cars."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Peach Rings (1782482)

        I can't help but wonder whether the difference in culture plays a role in the success of these kinds of missions. I don't really understand why, but despite the ridiculously rigorous education in Japan, they have very few Fields Medal winners. No South Korean has ever won a Nobel Prize despite being one of the most technologically innovative nations in the world.

        The thing is, I don't care how many 150 hour weeks these scientists put into homework when they were 9 years old, I'd rather have a bunch of MIT ha

        • by DarKnyht (671407)

          Because those processes have nothing to do with racial and cultural bias. You are talking about an organization that gave a Nobel Peace Prize to someone that presented inaccurate data (Al Gore) and furthered divided the sides of debate, and someone else that had effectively done nothing other than read a teleprompter well (President Obama) and help further the politicization of his country.

          I hope there is a better measuring stick than that.

          • Obviously the peace prizes have nothing to do with science, and they're not even awarded by the same people.

    • Especially since we're deliberately tanking our space program. We have to hope the rest of the world doesn't.
  • Win some lose some (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:02AM (#32771920) Homepage

    Whatever. The fact that they successfully landed on a freakin' moving asteroid is an accomplishment in itself.

    • Yup! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Benfea (1365845)
      Try something that difficult and there is always the risk of failure. I hope they try again!
      • by delinear (991444)
        The key thing is being able to reliably land the thing and get it back to earth for study - everything else will come with time, once we know a bit more about the stresses and strains of this kind of mission. If I had to guess I'd think they didn't hold out much hope for the other things this time around anyway, but were of the attitude that, hell, since we're going to be up there anyway may as well give it a try.
    • by sznupi (719324)

      You didn't really need to put "moving" in there... ;p

    • by igny (716218)

      Whatever. The fact that they successfully landed on a freakin' moving asteroid is an accomplishment in itself.

      It is not like the asteroid was actively trying to avoid the probe.

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:03AM (#32771940) Journal

    As is commonly cited here, everything NASA does screws up because stupid Americans don't use the metric system... if only the Japanese would use it they wouldn't have these prob...

    [hushed whispering] Uh.. it has come to my attention that some people believe Japan uses the metric system. This cannot be possible for 2 reasons: 1. With the metric system there can't be any stupid screwups like what the Americans do. 2. Japanese always have the most badass robots and this is just a space robot, and therefore must work. I stand by my original statement.

    • by Danse (1026) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:19AM (#32772098)
      The Japanese always have to over-complicate things. If only they hadn't insisted that the probe be able to transform into a giant, laser-sword-wielding humanoid form as well...
    • by Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:42AM (#32772364)

      As is commonly cited here, everything NASA does screws up because stupid Americans don't use the metric system... if only the Japanese would use it they wouldn't have these prob...

      [hushed whispering] Uh.. it has come to my attention that some people believe Japan uses the metric system. This cannot be possible for 2 reasons: 1. With the metric system there can't be any stupid screwups like what the Americans do. 2. Japanese always have the most badass robots and this is just a space robot, and therefore must work. I stand by my original statement.

      Heh... you think you're only joking but actually it's at least partially true:

      Like many people from outside the USA I used to get extremely frustrated whenever I went to print anything as most software and hardware is defaulted to use US Letter rather than A4.

      Some time later I got a job at a large Japanese company that makes printers and one of the things that really blew me away was that the Japanese have a paper size called A4 which is very slightly different from the A4 paper used by Europe... after that I decided that as much as US Letter pissed me off at least the Americans have the common decency to give their paper a different name.

      Even worse, on a tangential note, I also discovered that the dozen-odd different types of connectors used back in the 90s for SCSI connectors literally doubled overnight at said company because the Japanese have the same dozen or so connectors except that they reverse the gender of all the connections.

      In the end I guess it all comes down to that old saying: "The great thing about standards is that there is so many to choose from"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Myopic (18616)

      The metric system is a mediocre improvement over the imperial system, but I'd rather some other system altogether.

      We need a system which, first of all, has units which are meaningful to humans. British units are like this: a cup is a useful measure, but a liter is a bit too large. Kilograms are okay, but that's a confusing screwup of the concept of base units -- a single gram is too small to be useful. A meter is both too long to measure human-scale things and too short to measure large things.

      We also need

      • Just use the metric system, but base-12. Problem solved :-).

      • by sznupi (719324)

        A cup is really no more "meaningful to humans" than a liter. Or rather, both only as much as people are used to them, anyway - they freely operate with half a liter/etc (and "cups" at the same time, when it makes sense); plus it has a nice direct relation with kilogram (SI base unit anyway, maybe makes people quicker to get what "kilo" means ;) ). Similarly with meter; it is in the range where humans operate btw (you mean "parts of human body"? Sure you can find them, my legs are approximately 1 m, nicely d

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:04AM (#32771942)
    I trust the engineers will do the honorable thing.
  • by CraftyJack (1031736) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:04AM (#32771946)
    The Hayabusa team managed to recover a severely f'ed spacecraft on a shoestring budget despite misfortune on top of misfortune. Congratulations to them.
    • by xs650 (741277)
      Yes indeed. The difficult part for me is that there are some many smart arsed remarks I want too make.
    • by coofercat (719737)

      I agree - sure, they turned up empty handed, but you can bet they've learned a hell of a lot about these sorts of missions, and they've (probably) figured out how to do it right the next time. I expect the accumulated knowledge the world has about such things has grown considerably because of these guys.

      The fact they got anything back to earth after all those failures demonstrates they know how to do some awesome engineering*. I wish I could convince some software folks to do some of that sort of thinking.

      *

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ZeroExistenZ (721849)

        the trick is to make it look like you always meant it to work that way

        "Look! Our probe.. it's floating away into deep space without control! WHAT DO!"
        "CALL THE ENGINEERS!"
        "Yes, um, well.. in the requirements was clearly described for the probe to be autonomous. The fact that you do not have control is in fact this feature."
        "But it's floating A-WAY!"
        "The purpose of this mission was to 'float away from earth', otherwise there would be no use, would there?"
        "TOWARDS A ROCK"
        "Yes, but did you specify WHICH

      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        Yes, having things fail may suggest they don't know how to do engineering, but failures and mistakes happen to everyone - the trick is to make it look like you always meant it to work that way ;-)

        I did not know that JAXA was a subsidiary of Microsofts OS division.

  • “Hayabusa capsule yields gas,” declared one newspaper headline. “Vapor gives us hope”

    The newspaper headlines say it all! Hopefully they get something from all the problems they encountered.

  • Not bad, considering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asukasoryu (1804858) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:08AM (#32771984)
    Pretty good for a first try. Based on all other attempts to return physical samples from an extraterrestrial body, I'd say they got pretty close.
  • Aliens cleaned up dust from JAXA satellite using AJAX (If you are a housework-impaired linux geek, I refer to this [wikipedia.org]).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lennier1 (264730)

      Check the probe. They probably left a "Mega maid was here" bumper sticker.

      • by demonbug (309515)

        If only they'd included the Lone Starr module, they'd have had no trouble making her go from 'suck' to 'blow'.

    • by Smallpond (221300)

      If they were using AJAX that explains everything. IE turns off Javascript in the Interplanetary Security Zone.

      Oh. Wrong Ajax? Well, JAXA is the pride and joy [fuzz2buzz.com] of the Japanese space program.

  • by KarrdeSW (996917) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:12AM (#32772032)
    Don't let BP touch them... We'll have to send Bruce Willis into space to clean up their mess.
  • Man, oh man (Score:5, Funny)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:17AM (#32772082)
    The conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this one. Obviously someone/something on the asteroid didn't want to be seen
    • The probe obviously got rick-rolled during the approach vector.
    • Shhhh!!!!

      Can you imagine what a "takedown notice" would do with an asteroid?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      It went to Europa by mistake.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      what do you mean conspiracy theorists?
      In all seriousness, people are trying to learn about the universe, and they are being stopped
      there was all the CERN stuff last year... I mean, come on! a bird dropped a piece of bread and stopped it. and a few days ago we all learned that birds are very smart.
      now this.

      If there is a God, he might die laughing one day.

  • by Silm (1135973) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:37AM (#32772294)

    The submitter of this article has no idea what he is talking about. It will take months to even be sure that there is something in there.
    The only tests that have been done to date on the canister is a CT scan which can only detect samples as big as a grain of sand, way bigger then was expected.
    The gas in the capsule might have come from evaporated organics / ice of some form. How was this gas detected? The top of the capsule behaved slightly diffirent ( on a sub-millimetre scale ) in various pressure surroundings ( Nitrogen and CO2 under various pressures )

    The container has not been opened yet. All this talk is bullocks. The japanese estimate right now is that it will take some MONTHS to come till they know if they have something. The tiniest of particles is enough for this.
    Furthermore, the source, a NYT article, does not reflect at all the actual goal of the mission - for this, I refer to wikipedia.
    Succes for Hayabusa is considered 100 points. I'll repeat that: Primary mission objective succes is defined as 100 points. You do the math.

    Operation of Ion Engines
    50 points Success
    Operation of Ion Engines for more than 1000 hours
    100 points Success
    Earth Gravity Assist with Ion Engines
    150 points Success
    Rendezvous with Itokawa with Autonomous Navigation
    200 points Success
    Scientific Observation of Itokawa
    250 points Success
    Touch-down and Sample Collection
    275 points Success
    Capsule Recovered
    400 points Success
    Sample obtained for Analysis
    500 points Uncertain

    This mission IS A BIG SUCCES. There is no other way to talk about it. In the NYT article it is stated this mission was a failure as soon as there is no dust.
    And next to that, as said above, it is absolute BS to talk about succes or not at this point.

    • All this talk is bullocks

      While bullocks is indeed a real word, I think the word you're looking for is bollocks.

      Good day, sir!

    • by v1 (525388)

      Primary mission objective succes is defined as 100 points. You do the math.

      Adding up all that comes to what, 1925 pts possible. And they are saying 100 is a success? So if they achieve 5% of what they set out to do, that's a "success"?

      I suppose it's easier to look at things as a success when you set your standards that low? Don't know what school these guys attended, but I'm pretty sure anything below 60% at MIT fails you.

      GRANTED. Space is a tough house to play. But still, 5% is "success"? I'd hope fo

    • Contrast what this article says (Ohhh! Nothing found!) with this one: http://www.rtve.es/noticias/20100629/tesoro-extraterrestre-encerrado-capsula-hayabusa/337615.shtml [www.rtve.es] (Spanish, Google translator is your friend) "Confirmed. The probe Hayabusa has brought asteroid dust. JAXA scientists have not opened the probe yet [...] but they made a X ray analysis and learned that inside of the capsule there are some particles smaller than a millimeter." They link to http://www.jaxa.jp/press/2010/06/20100624_hayabusa [www.jaxa.jp]
  • by Alrescha (50745)

    The samples landed safely just outside of a small town in Arizona...

    A.

  • ...all I can say is, welcome to space exploration. Where if it can go wrong, it typically will and where tomorrow's missions hopefully are made better by today's mistakes - mistakes even the exalted NASA isn't immune to. At least you got the probe back - after landing on a remote asteroid out in the middle of nowhere which is a major success in my book.

  • by yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:10AM (#32772736)

    They landed a probe on an asteroid, and returned it to Earth.

    They made measurements and took pictures in incredible detail. That Itokawa is apparently a low-density "rubble pile" was a surprise, and surprising science is the best kind!

    They did this on a budget that was tiny by NASA's standards.

    They learned a lot about the strengths and limitations of their technology. If Japan can recover the political courage to support this kind of ambitious mission, and if JAXA can recover the courage to let its scientists and engineers do the best possible job without management interference, they'll most likely do much better the next time around.

    Why is there so much negativity about this incredible mission?

    • by delinear (991444)
      The mainstream media don't sell copies by saying "everything's great" - nor by giving an in-depth analysis of a mission like this (not unless they can dumb down the importance enough, in which case we might get a three bullet point list with a picture of Bruce Willis in an astronaught costume). They sell copies by being doomsayers. At least there are people here who appreciate the significance of this mission.
  • Considering all the things that went wrong, it sounds like the start of a science fiction novel. Alien beings thwarted the mission and tracked the probe back to earth.

    LOOK OUT!!! They're on the way!

  • The LANDED on an asteroid and returned. That's a first. A very hard first.

    Yeah, the trip with riddled with errors, and yet they recovered from them and still got it back.

    Kudos to JAXA.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Not only did they land the damn thing on an asteroid, the probe was in good enough shape to take back off again and arrive at earth. It landed without use of airbags or whatever is in vouge on the mars missions these days. The fact that anything functioned at all after taking off at 20,000mph from earth and landing on a distant body is fucking amazing. That the engines worked after that is just icing on the cake. I bet the structural engineers are going to have a field day examining the frame of the probe o

      • by sznupi (719324)

        To be fair, landing on Eros, an asteroid 5 orders of magnitude more massive, with ~60 times stronger surface gravity and 2 orders of magnitude greater escape velocity than Itokawa, was made by a spacecraft...not meant to do it. Those bodies have miniscule gravities - you could launch yourself from Itokawa, into escape velocity, just by trying to walk (from Eros a strong jump is required). So no airbags / etc. is really not much of a surprise. How impressive the Hayabusa achievements are doesn't revolve arou

  • by name_already_taken (540581) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:22AM (#32772890)

    "To the public's dismay, JAXA officials said they were not sure whether any samples had been collected."

    That's Japanese for "it didn't work".

    I work in an office where we have periodic dealings with representatives of Japanese industry (actual Japanese people in Japan).I can tell you absolutely that in Japan, if someone says they're "not sure" about whether something happened or is possible, it means "the answer is no".

    "It's very difficult" also means "the answer is no"

    In the Japanese culture, it's bad to say you can't do something, or to admit failure. Silly as it sounds to us westerners, instead of saying outright "no" they use mushy words to avoid losing face.

    There's nothing wrong with that, but you have to understand what they're actually saying when they say things like that.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      Silly as it sounds to us westerners, instead of saying outright "no" they use mushy words to avoid losing face.

      In England we'd probably say something like, "um... it could be worse" or "not too bad, considering"

      they use mushy words to avoid losing face

      I don't think that's an east/west thing.

      British "um, excuse me?" translates to "what the fuck did you say?!"
      "That might delay the project, slightly" means "that will double the time it takes to do the project, at best"
      "Your mum called, she's had a bit of an accident" means "go to the hospital, your mum's almost dead".
      "Would you mind quietening down a little?" means "it's four-in-the-fucking-morning, turn that

  • by mbone (558574) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:27AM (#32772956)

    Hayabusa was not a failure, failure of the sample return or no. It returned a lot of information about a near Earth asteroid including (to me) the very fundamental result that the regolith appears to be well mixed. This means that the asteroid is not just a lump of rubble but something is stirring material from inside to the surface and back again. This will prove very significant when we start doing engineering on asteroids (such as mining or setting up bases).

    Traveling in deep space is tough. All of the countries that have done it have suffered through a pretty steep learning curve. Japan's space agency should be congratulated for pulling this off; I hope that the (undeserved) bad press doesn't make them shy from trying innovative missions such as Hayabusa in the future.

  • I think we should give them a mulligan on that one, and let them retake the shot. Seems fair, no?
  • by slick7 (1703596)
    How appropriate, the Japanese hunt and "collect" whales in inner space and yet, nothing in outer space. Co-inky-dink? I think not.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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