Just about everything that could go wrong happened to the Hayabusa mission, yet it still made it back to Earth while carefully protecting 1,500 precious samples from asteroid Itokawa’s surface.
Japan’s space agency just launched Hayabusa2, an ambitious deep space mission to land on an asteroid, smack it with an interceptor, collect and return samples, and deploy rovers. After a multi-day weather delay, the rocket blasted off a scene seaside spaceport, carrying Hayabusa2 and a collection of opportunistic…
Today the space probe Hayabusa returned to Earth after seven years in space studying an asteroid. Already it has sent back hundreds of pictures, and has splashed down near Australia bearing chunks of the small asteroid Itokawa.
The pellet gun failed to fire, three of its four engines have failed, and mission control has lost control of it once already. Already months late, what are the odds that Japanese probe Hayabusa will make it home at all?