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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