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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Photos of the Day: Hayabusa 2 Is Unveiled!

JAXA's asteroid-bound Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is unveiled during a special event at the Samagihara spacecraft assembly facility in Japan, on August 31, 2014.
Komei Shibata - Twitpic.com

Today, I was originally gonna post an update only devoted to NASA's New Horizons spacecraft entering its final hibernation last Friday in preparation for its highly-anticipated Pluto encounter next July (New Horizons will wake up on December 7 and stay active for the next two years as it gathers information at the dwarf planet during the first half of 2015, and then spends more than a year after that downloading the data back to Earth), but I just found out online that JAXA's (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has completed construction...and will soon make its way to its launch site at Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan to get ready for lift-off this December. Hayabusa 2 is the follow-up to the successful but near-disastrous Hayabusa mission—which visited and collected samples from asteroid Itokawa in 2005, and then limped its way back to Earth in mid-2010 after a series of problems pertaining to its communications system, maneuvering thrusters and ion engines almost threatened the spacecraft's return to our home planet. A couple of re-designs to Hayabusa 2 will hopefully prevent these problems from occurring on this new mission...which will see Hayabusa 2 visiting asteroid 1999 JU3 in 2018, collecting samples during this rendezvous, and then returning to Earth in December of 2020 to deliver the samples that it retrieved from 1999 JU3. Let's cross our fingers that this intriguing mission won't be half as problem-prone as its predecessor was. More updates will be posted about this project as its winter launch date nears.

JAXA's asteroid-bound Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is unveiled during a special event at the Samagihara spacecraft assembly facility in Japan, on August 31, 2014.
Komei Shibata - Twitpic.com

A close-up of the sample return capsule aboard JAXA's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft...which was unveiled during a special event at the Samagihara spacecraft assembly facility in Japan, on August 31, 2014.
Komei Shibata - Twitter.com

A close-up of the sample return capsule aboard JAXA's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft...which was unveiled during a special event at the Samagihara spacecraft assembly facility in Japan, on August 31, 2014.
Komei Shibata - Twitpic.com

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