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China Space Science

Details of Chinese Spacecraft's Asteroid Encounter 89

the_newsbeagle writes "Chinese aerospace engineers have revealed, for the first time, details about their Chang'e-2 spacecraft's encounter with the asteroid Toutatis last month. They have plenty to boast: The asteroid flyby wasn't part of the original flight plan, but engineers adapted the mission and navigated the satellite through deep space (PDF). Exactly how close Chang'e-2 came to Toutatis is still unclear. The article states that the first reports 'placed the flyby range at 3.2 km, which was astonishingly—even recklessly—tight. Passing within a few kilometers of an asteroid only 2 to 3 km in diameter at a speed of 10,730 meters per second could be described as either superb shooting or a near disaster.' If the Chinese spacecraft did pass that near, it could provide a "scientific bonanza" with data about the asteroid's mass and composition."
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Details of Chinese Spacecraft's Asteroid Encounter

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  • Re:Figures. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:25PM (#42766191)

    Have you seen some of the missions NASA has undertaken?

    Yes, and even when they fail or kill people, they aren't usually described as "reckless" or "disaster" (even if near). If someone died, it was a tragedy, but not a disaster. At least in mainstream media. But this, a well-executed fly-by, is a reckless near-disaster. It wasn't the mission that was the complaint, but the coverage of it. It was described in a negative manner. Why?

  • Re:Figures. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mikael ( 484 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:54PM (#42767689)

    Because they are jealous - that the Chinese could afford to remission a probe to do something "trivial" as photograph an asteroid. Of course when NASA decides to remission probes to deliberately crash into the Moon then that is "discovery". To me, deliberately crashing anything man-made into an extra-terrestrial object runs the risk of contaminating samples for future experiments.

  • Re:Figures. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoctorStarks ( 736111 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:42PM (#42768727)
    They were in talks to participate in the ISS. The ISS partners invited them in as potential responsible, collaborative partners in the future of manned space flight..

    Then they conducted a reckless ASAT test at relatively high LEO altitudes and nearly doubled the number of trackable debris at that altitude [see Johnson Space Center's Orbital Debris Quarterly Newsletter for the chart]. At that altitude, the pieces of their defunct weather satellite will remain a hazard for many decades. That got them uninvited.

    China needs to decide whether the PLA is running the show or not, and decide whether they want to be a responsible space-faring nation... or not.

  • Re:Figures. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @03:14AM (#42769685) Journal
    NASA shot Cassini through gaps in the rings of Saturn, twice! However, if you want to see reckless then watch Armstrong navigate onto the moon in a tinfoil box.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton