View Full Version : Probe 'Gathers Asteroid Material'

11-26-2005, 12:23 PM
Probe 'gathers asteroid material'



A Japanese space probe has become the first craft to collect samples from the surface of an asteroid, mission scientists say.

The probe, called Hayabusa - Japanese for falcon - briefly touched down on the Itokawa asteroid and fired a projectile to loosen surface material.

Scientists believe it collected the debris, but will only be sure when the craft returns to Earth in 2007.

Moon rocks have been analysed before, but asteroids could contain material

from the birth of the solar system.

Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) confirmed that the Hayabusa touched down on Itokawa for a few seconds.

Touching down on the asteroid, which is 290 million km (180 million miles) from Earth, was as tough as landing a jumbo jet in the Grand Canyon, a Jaxa spokesman said.

The probe fired a small metal ball into the surface and apparently collected the resulting powdery debris.

"The process of sampling also seems to have gone very well," said Jaxa's Kiyotaka Yashiro.

Japan's Science and Technology Minister Iwao Matsuda praised the effort.

"I am delighted to hear that it has collected the samples. It is the world's first such feat and it will contribute greatly to mankind's exploration of space."

Celestial secrets
Saturday's announcement by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) came after a series of problems in the past week.

Last Sunday, Hayabusa made a first touchdown on the rotating asteroid - but it failed to collect material after temporarily losing contact with Earth.

A separate attempt to land a miniature robot on the asteroid was also unsuccessful.

Hayabusa was launched in May 2003 and has until early December before it must leave orbit and begin its journey home. It is expected to return to Earth and land in the Australian outback in June 2007.

Examining asteroid samples is expected to help unlock secrets of how celestial bodies were formed because their surfaces are believed to have remained relatively unchanged over the ages, unlike those of larger bodies such the planets or moons.

Itokawa, named after the Japanese rocket scientist Hideo Itokawa, is 690m (2,300 ft) long and 300m (1,000 ft) wide and has a gravitational pull only 1/100,000th that of Earth's.

11-26-2005, 12:25 PM
I collected asteroid material from my underwear before.

11-26-2005, 12:26 PM
Wasn't that hemorroids (sp?)?

11-26-2005, 12:29 PM
I think asteroid material is like ass crumbs or something.

11-26-2005, 01:53 PM
Ick... anyway... these kinds of achievements are what make me proud to be a human. It's all of our bullshit that makes me wince...