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.
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?