Jan 14, 2011

Voyage of Hayabusa Part 1

M-V rocket
You might have heard about hayabusa in the States. It was a Japanese mission which objective was to land on an asteroid called "Itokawa"and return a sample of the asteroid back to Earth.
This mission was launched on 2003 by a tiny rocket called M-V and returned last year.
I didn't know about mission till last year, when the media started to release news that hayabusa was close to returning.
There have been a lot of rainy days during the mission, which is so many that I won't be able to talk about all of them here. To list some of them,

  • a solar flare(an explosion in the sun's atmosphere) damaged the solar panels
  • a probe called MINERVA failed to deattach
  • failed to do the sample collecting as according to plan
  • the fuel leaked
  • ion engine
  • 3 out of 4 engines failed
  • couldn't communicate for a while
Hayabusa was having a newly developed energy-efficient ion engine on board, which was then sort of still in its testing period. Though its output isn't so big, it could be used continuously, so as a result can get to faster speeds than the usual boosters when doing a long-term mission.
The return of Hayabusa was really endangered because of these problems, but the engineers tackled them one by one, and it got on the trajectory to get back to Earth. Still, it was a big question if the vital component, the dust sample from Itokawa was in the spacecraft.
I'll leave it here for now, and I'll write more about it tomorrow or later.

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