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Asteroid explorer ‘Hayabusa’ returns to Earth


Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft breaks up on re-entry over Woomera on Sunday. Photo: NASA

TOKYO (BNS): Japanese space probe ‘Hayabusa’ has successfully separated its capsule at 7:51 p.m. JST (Japan Standard Time) at Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), in southwestern Australia on Sunday.

The Asteroid explorer re-entered the atmosphere to complete its mission operation at 10:51 p.m. (JST).

According to JAXA, the sample return capsule has been found and they would begin the task of retrieving the canister on Monday.

The basketball-sized cargo capsule was released from the spacecraft at 8.51pm (JST), about 40,000 kilometers from Earth and landed by parachute at WPA.

JAXA said it has searched the capsule by a helicopter and discovered it at the expected landing area in WPA, Australia at 11:56 p.m. (JST).

Hayabusa is the first spacecraft that landed on an asteroid and returned to Earth.

The probe was launched on May 9th, 2003 by M-V rocket and operated for approximately seven years. After taking photo images from all angles of the 1,640-foot (500-meter) -long asteroid, Hayabusa landed on it twice in late 2005.

During its operation, JAXA was able to achieve the difficult mission including Hayabusa's sample capture attempt after its touchdown on the asteroid named Itokawa, and Hayabusa’s return to the earth overcoming many hardships.

Tags:

Hayabusa   JAXA  

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