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Space Australia Science

Japanese Spacecraft Bringing Back Space Rock 116

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 DamageLabs ( 980310 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:14AM (#31938992) Homepage

    Australia IS a bigger target. Probably easier to hit.

  • by MoeDrippins ( 769977 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:42AM (#31939406)

    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:Now that.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:47AM (#31939480)

    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:Now that.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:25PM (#31941936) Journal

    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 @02:05PM (#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.

  • Re:Now that.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:35PM (#31943306)

    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 the moment they are a waste of resources. We have eons to send tourists, but actual exploration no longer has anything to do with putting meat on the spot.

    Those who want adventure should pay a commercial outfit to give it to them. Knowledge and power are more useful.

  • Re:Now that.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:52PM (#31943680)

    ***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. Instead we ended up with the monster, money sucking black hole of the space shuttle/ISS whose very high cost, and inability to meet schedule objectives probably set space science overall back at least a decade.

  • Re:Now that.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phaic tan ( 855655 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:46PM (#31950646)
    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.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian