The Tech Herald

Asteroid probe completes mission as stunning fireball (video)

by Stevie Smith - Jun 15 2010, 14:37

Hiding a tantalising payload? Image: JAXA.

A Japanese-built probe designed to explore outer space and gather asteroid samples made a spectacular return to Earth on Sunday, dazzling scientists and onlookers as it burnt up in the night skies above Australia.

Prior to its fiery return, the Hayabusa spacecraft had spent seven years probing the solar system, during which time it safely landed upon the 500-metre Itokawa asteroid in an attempt to gather important scientific surface samples.

Researchers eager to study any successfully stowed materials retrieved the craft’s all-imported capsule on Monday from the remote Australian Outback – the capsule itself was protected during re-entry by a special carbon heat shield.

Galactic detritus - The Itokawa asteroid. Image: JAXA.

Galactic detritus - The Itokawa asteroid. Image: JAXA.

Seemingly intact and still attached to its descent parachute, the capsule was transported by a helicopter team to a waiting control centre at the nearby Woomera Prohibited Area. Following preliminary inspection, the capsule and its contents will be shipped to Tokyo for further study.

The stunning images of Hayabusa breaking up as it hurtled through the atmosphere were captured by NASA’s flying DC-8 laboratory, which was equipped for the event with special high-speed cameras and imaging equipment, along with representatives from NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

According to a statement given by JAXA president Dr. Keiji Tachikawa, it is hoped that in-depth analysis of the capsule’s contents will enable scientists to form a better understanding of the solar system’s origins and evolution.

Around the Web

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus

From Autosaur.com

New Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4MATIC Coupe (Pictures)

Mercedes have revealed details and pictures of their new S63 AMG 4MATIC Coupe — and it’s a b...

Shelby GT350 Mustang Pictures

We have added a bunch of pictures of the all-new Shelby GT350 Mustang from Ford. The ne...

All-new Shelby GT350 Mustang

Ford have revealed details of the new Shelby GT350 Mustang. First introduced in 1965 the new...

Best Cars To Buy In 2015

Leading vehicle research company Kelley Blue Book has released its list of the best cars to ...

A.C. Milan Take On Audi R8

Five A.C. Milan stars take on an Audi R8 in a game of street soccer in a new ad for Toyo Tir...