Japanese probe successfully lands on asteroid brings back space dust

first_imgIt’s a concept straight from a science fiction movie: an automated space craft is fired by the Japanese into outer space to try to capture some stardust from the tail of an immense, hurtling asteroid… but that’s exactly what Japan’s space agency JAXA did back in 2003 in order to corroborate numerous theories on the makeup of asteroids.Sounds a lot like Michael Bay’s Armageddon, right? It was a pretty neat experiment, but unfortunately, just like in Armageddon, pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong: there was a fuel leak, rampant issues with communications, propulsion malfunctions and more, all of which added three years to the trip. Worse, even the primary mission — to actually drop a landing craft on the asteroid as it hurtled through space — failed.AdChoices广告Desperate, the operators of JAXA’s Hayabusa probe decided to do something daring: to get the data they’d spent so many millions to acquire, they’d drop the probe itself on the asteroid in an attempt to scoop up some asteroid dust. Everything seemed to work, but then, adding insult to injury, Hayabusa burned up as it returned into Earth’s atmosphere, and scientists were worried for years that the sample capsule had also been contaminated during re-entry.At the end of the day, though, the Hayabusa mission was a success: JAXA scientists have found iron-rich olivine and pyroxene particles which can’t be found on Earth.Read more at Popular Sciencelast_img

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