Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
NASA Australia Space Science

NASA Astronomers To Observe Hayabusa's Fiery Homecoming 142

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Astronomers To Observe Hayabusa's Fiery Homecoming

Comments Filter:
  • by laggist ( 784355 ) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:36PM (#32518518)
    Being the avid Sci-fi fan that I am, I can't help but wonder if the the people who made the choice of landing of Hayabusa in an unpopulated outback of Australia gave any thought to the idea that the asteroid Itokawa may be a source of biological contaminants?

    What I'm saying is, Hayabusa lands in the heart of unpopulated Australia, then a small town in the area gets ravaged by "bio-terror", then the military issues a media blackout.. You know, the standard plot of a zombie outbreak ensues..

    I can't be the only one who thought of this scenario.. Does anyone else think the same as me? Discuss!

    tl;dr - Choice of remote Australian outback for Hayabusa to stem contagion fears in case of zombie outbreak?? Discuss.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:39PM (#32518558)

    Does anyone know if there is more information? I.e. Which side of Australia will it approach from and a more exact time? I'll be a couple of hours out of Sydney and would like to know if it will be observable. A quick search around NASA's website and Google didn't reveal anything helpful.

  • Home again! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joh ( 27088 ) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @09:10PM (#32518790)

    In case you haven't followed that drama you should do that now [wikipedia.org]. Keeping that bird in control, managing it to do some science and finally getting it back was seriously heroic by JAXA. This was easily the most problem-ridden probe ever making it back (well, almost now). I hope the last leg of that epic journey will go well.

  • Re:Hayab USA! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Peach Rings ( 1782482 ) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:08PM (#32519162) Homepage

    Maybe they're using a new kind of heat shield and want to see how it performs. It's really expensive to get something massive up into space and accelerate it down into the atmosphere at a speed that would cause it to burn up; maybe they have to wait for occasions like this to get good data.

  • Re:"unpopulated" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:41PM (#32519368)
    Best. Mail. Job. Ever.
  • Re:Hayab USA! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:41PM (#32519738)
    Anyone want to count the number of re-entries from the far side of the Sun which the US has had in the 50+ years of spaceflight?

    ...because the Earth's atmosphere extends beyond Sol, so that makes a really significant difference on re-entry.

    (is the state of science education in the US really as bad as that comment indicates?)
  • Re:Hayab USA! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @02:38AM (#32520638) Journal
    Don't think that coming in from 300,000 times the altitude is going to make a teeny-weeny bit of difference in the re-entry velocity? It's one thing to re-enter from orbit, but it's quite a different ball game to re-enter from an interplanetary trajectory. This bird will be coming in hot!
  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jws[ ]he.com ['myt' in gap]> on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:03AM (#32521088) Homepage Journal

          It would be dumb luck. Something that existed somewhere else in the universe that thrived, can handle living in space, and could infect those pesky mammals that think they own the earth.

        If the panspermia theory is correct, that wouldn't be all that questionable. Well, if across the span of the entire universe, a rock happened to be tossed into space, that happened to have a virus, that happened to be able to survive to the earth, that happened to infect a mammal host before it died off.

        I think we have bigger concerns than space viruses, unless it's for the plot of a scifi movie/show/book. :)

  • Re:"unpopulated" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:33AM (#32521452)

    It is true that there aren't many parts of the world that are unpopulated. However, large tracts of Australia genuinely are. There are certain patches of Australia where it is likely that no human has ever set foot (yes, including Aborigines). There really are very few other places in the world that are as 'empty' as the interior of Australia. Antarctica obviously. And random areas of the Greenland ice cap. And not much else.

    However in this case the area mentioned in the article is empty not because of its remoteness, but because it's a military reserve/testing ground. They did atmospheric nuclear testing there in the 50s. Non authorised personnel aren't allowed - so they can be reasonably confident it's 'unpopulated' for the purposes of the Hayabusa landing.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan