Japan prepares second mission to explore asteroid
News On Japan via wired.co.uk -- Sep 01
Little more than two years ago, in June 2010, one of the most astonishing space missions of recent times ended when Japan's Hayabusa mission landed samples of an asteroid in the Australian outback. Now Japan's space agency Jaxa is planning a new mission, Hayabusa 2, to land on another asteroid and look for clues as to how life on Earth began.
The latest issue of Physics World, which carries a special supplement about physics in Japan, tells how the first Hayabusa was welcomed like a prodigal son by the nation's people. Tens of thousands watched on the Internet as it came home, streaking through the night sky over the South Pacific.
And more than 100,000 people queued to see as the capsule recovered was taken on a tour of Japan. By some miracle, it had accidentally collected some specks of asteroid dust despite failing to fire bullets that were intended to collect samples.
Hayabusa 2 will be launched in 2014 on a mission to touch down on its target asteroid, labelled 1999 JU3, in mid-2018. It will then return to Earth in 2020, hopefully with samples for scientists to examine.
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