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Space Science

NASA Aircraft Videos Hayabusa Re-Entry 56

astroengine writes "Flying above the Australian Outback, NASA's converted DC-8 jet videoed the violent re-entry of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft. Flying in front of the disintegrating probe, the mission's sample return capsule can be seen speeding though the atmosphere. According to reports, the capsule landed safely and will be collected by helicopter in the morning." "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait posts about the successful return as well.
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NASA Aircraft Videos Hayabusa Re-Entry

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  • Re:Just curious (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13, 2010 @03:32PM (#32558430)

    land on asteroid, get bits into container, bring container back to earth using ion engines.

  • So far so good (Score:5, Informative)

    by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @03:32PM (#32558432) Homepage
    TFA says that it looks like the capsule is intact. However, we still don't know if there's even anything in the capsule. The original plan called for the probe to fire pellets at the surface to stir up dust for sampling, but the pellet firing failed. We don't know if there's any substantial quantity of dust in the capsule. The probe also had other problems, including difficult with maneuvering which required deviations from the original mission plan. Still, the entire project seems like a very impressive success, to send a probe to an asteroid and then return that to Earth even if the returning sample is very small.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by confused one ( 671304 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @03:46PM (#32558488)
    To go to an asteroid and bring back a sample. It has apparently succeeded despite apparently having problmes landing on the surface, having guidance issues, fuel leaks, and thrusters fail.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @03:48PM (#32558498)
    Make scientific observations of the physics and geology of an asteroid and hopefully get a sample... that last part may have failed... []
  • by phlegmofdiscontent ( 459470 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @04:07PM (#32558588)

    Mr. Plait makes a good point. People tend to have this view of asteroids being solid rocks, probably because the Earth and other large rocky bodies are solid and the meteorites that make it to the Earth's surface are solid. However, that's not a valid assumption to make and recent science is showing this to be the case. Scientists are finding that some asteroids and various satellites of the outer planets are less dense than expected, suggesting that they're somewhat porous (i.e. masses of rubble instead of solid bodies). Science from the Cassini probe is showing that small bodies in orbit around Saturn are constantly being assembled and destroyed.

    Personally, this view of asteroids being porous masses of loosely assembled rubble makes sense, especially from a planetary formation perspective. It's only when you get bodies more than a few hundreds of km in diameter that gravity starts to force the rubble to fuse into solid masses. The implication of all this that Mr. Plait points out is that nuking an asteroid will be akin to bombing a cloud. It's not going to move the asteroid at all, only disrupt it, causing not one impact but several. On the other hand, maybe it would make disrupting asteroids easier. Instead of one large impact, you have thousands of smaller bodies that have a greater chance of simply burning up on reentry.

    One other thing that isn't touched on, but is of keen interest to the astronomical community is that the meteorites that we have here have spectra that are very different from the spectra of the asteroids we see in space. The current theory is that the surfaces of asteroids undergo some sort of weathering, which changes the spectra. By gaining physical samples of the surface of an asteroid, this theory can be tested by direct chemical analysis. Very exciting, if it was successful.

  • Background article (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @04:07PM (#32558590) Journal

    This article [] is a great background article on the trials Hayabusa endured on it's way, while it was there and on its return to Earth. Read the article and be amazed that the probe made it home at all.

    Reminded me of Apollo 13's problems and the hacks necessary to deal with them.

  • Re:Re-entry (Score:3, Informative)

    by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @04:24PM (#32558656) Homepage

    What I've been wondering for many years now, is that the Space Shuttle is on a predicted flight path, so they know where it is and at what time. Why hasn't it's re-entry been filmed properly?

    Well it has been. See for example [] [] []

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @04:35PM (#32558708) Homepage

    "Videos"? I'm sorry, when did "video" become a verb?

    Well, "video" is actually a verb to star with. It is a Latin word that means "I see." I don't know where you are, but to use "video" as a verb meaning to record a visual image seems common here in New England. I suspect that it is a shortening of "videotape" as a verb. The transition to "video" makes sense both as a shortening and as a response to the fact that most modern video cameras don't have tapes.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @06:09PM (#32559216) Homepage Journal

    I still hear "taping" for audio recordings, too.

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