Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Science

Hayabusa Returns Particles From Asteroid 100

Posted by timothy
from the homeopathic-samples dept.
The collection module of Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft, as recently noted, was on recovery believed to contain no samples from the asteroid Hayausa it had been sent to investigate. That conclusion may have been premature; reader mbone writes that "The BBC now has a story, 'Hayabusa capsule particles may be from asteroid.' Apparently JAXA (the Japanese Space Agency) has opened the sample container returned to Earth by Hayabusa, and has released 'images of tiny dust particles inside the container.' Whether they are asteroid particles or pieces of dust brought all the way from Earth remains to be seen, but they were certainly returned from the asteroid — a remarkable technical feat. This announcement, I think, gives considerable hope that these particles are from the near-Earth asteroid, Itokawa, as the Japanese have been very careful in trying to avoid contamination. Even a tiny speck of dust would be very revealing about the asteroid's constitution and possibly its history as well. Kudos to JAXA for a job well done."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hayabusa Returns Particles From Asteroid

Comments Filter:
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:43AM (#32810862) Homepage

    ...the fact that they managed to land on a moving asteroid is amazing. The fact that they were able to land on a moving asteroid, take off from that asteroid after landing, and successfully make it back to Earth is nothing short of astounding.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:46AM (#32810908)
    Epic mission is epic.
  • If you don't feed the trolls, they will be cold and underground.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:57AM (#32811132)

    The "moving" part doesn't complicate anything once you're in space. It wouldn't be like a fly landing on a bullet; the asteroid is only moving relative to other objects in space. As far as the spacecraft is concerned the asteroid is stationary and it can take all the time it needs to land on it.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:01AM (#32811198) Journal

    The "moving" part doesn't complicate anything once you're in space. It wouldn't be like a fly landing on a bullet; the asteroid is only moving relative to other objects in space. As far as the spacecraft is concerned the asteroid is stationary and it can take all the time it needs to land on it.

    Try adding a rotation into the mix. Imagine your asteroid is rotating around any axis - and trying to get a space-ship to FOLLOW that rotation without the gravity necessary to actually pull it in.

    It's much more complicated than high school physics class.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:06AM (#32811270) Journal
    While I am a fan of this mission, you really can not call it a landing since the asteroid has such little gravity. The fact is, that if you were next to the asteroid and simply had a small leak in your face place, and faced the asteroid, you would take off. It is probably more accurate to say that Hayabusa was parked next to the asteroid, which in itself is quite an accomplishment.
  • by northernfrights (1653323) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:26AM (#32811558)
    Lol, I'm sure the original poster was well aware of the fact that there was negligible gravity. I don't think he was amazed by the actual act of lifting off the asteroid. It's the extremely precise trajectory that had to be flown in order to "park" next to the asteroid, and the fact that it actually had to stop, and then form a new extremely precise trajectory all of it's own accord to return back to earth. This is all totally unprecedented, and yes, it really is that amazing.
  • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @12:21PM (#32812546)

    You can't forget that gravity either. Its small, but its significant. Because asteroids tend to have awkward shapes too, you can't depend on orbits or any of the other tools you'd use for a real planet. If you're not keeping a kilometer or more away, you have to have a really good gravity map to avoid smashing into the thing.

    But like you said, you can't depend on that gravity to actually hold you down, which makes it all harder still. Operations near asteroids are definitely one of the hardest things we do in deep space right now.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @12:36PM (#32812780) Homepage

    Of course the 90 days was just the 'minimum for justification of the mission' and the 'warranty' period of the rovers (The minimum amount of time that they were expected to operate).

    No, that was just the estimated amount of time before dust accumulation on the solar panels would prevent it from receiving adequate power. The rovers and their components were never designed, estimated to last, or "warrantied" for 90 days, even as a low-ball minimum-guarantee. It was always a statement about environmental conditions on Mars, and once they saw that the environment was different and the Martian wind was strong enough to blow the panels clean, 90 days got thrown out the window because that's all it ever meant.

    But like Scotty, with an absurd over-estimate (or in this case, under-estimate) when you shatter that estimate it makes you look pretty spectacular. (Or just really bad at estimates)

    There was nothing absurd about it. It was just based on a faulty assumption. If the rover mission had been planned knowing Mars would be kind enough to clean the solar panels for them, they would have planned for a much longer mission. It would have probably still been a lower estimate than the possible lifetime of the rovers as one would expect to ensure that it is probable they would last that long, but not an absurd under-estimate.

Never invest your money in anything that eats or needs repainting. -- Billy Rose

Working...