Wednesday, April 18, 2007

hayabusa - typical japanese bad luck

Hayabusa - the Pilgrim Falcon - is a Japanese mission to collect sample material from a close to Earth asteroid. It was launched in May 2003 and arrived in a heliocentric orbit close to the Itokawa asteroid in September 2005. It managed to land on the surface of the asteroid, but the MINERVA mini-lander (~600 g) was lost due to the long command response time. It is not sure if the sample collection procedure was properly executed (a metal projectile should have hit the asteroid's surface) but it is supposed that at least a small quantity of dust will be found in the sealed container.
In December 2006, a fuel leakage determined loss of communication. It is supposed that 8 - 10 cc of leaked fuel evaporated resulting in a precession movement which stabilized into a spinning after 4 months. Communication was reestablished, but 4 out of the 11 battery cells were found to be damaged and that only 2 of the ion engines work normally.
At the beginning of April 2007, Hayabusa was expected to start it's journey home, a journey that will end in 2010.

More on Hayabusa's problems and solutions

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