Journey to the Small Near-Earth Asteroid 25143 Itokawa

What do you think a little asteroid dust could tell us about the universe?

Astronomers are currently studying asteroid 25143 Itokawa
Hayabusa has returned from its mission to asteroid 25143 Itokawa

Astronomy gurus watched as it came back to Earth

Astronomy News – The return capsule of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s asteroid-hunting Hayabusa spacecraft splashed down safely near Australia on June 13. This marks the return of a space traveller that was launched in 2003 in order to journey to the small near-Earth asteroid 25143 Itokawa to bring back a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Hayabusa has been designed and engineered to fire a projectile into the surface of asteroid 25143 Itokawa and hopefully kick up dust that can be collected by Hayabusa’s onboard collection container. The only problem is space scientists don’t know yet if Hayabusa was able to accomplish its mission, but they remain hopeful the projectile was able to fire and the collection container store some dust for them to study. Any dust they find could still be Earth dust that somehow entered the collection container, so any material they find in the collection container will still have to be verified to be true asteroid dust.

Astronomy and asteroid hunting is fun
Asteroid 25143 Itokawa is a small near-Earth asteroid that will be remembered for all time

Hayabusa’s mission was a success, even if the projectile didn’t fire and the collection container didn’t collect any dust because Japanese space scientists were able to conduct several other groundbreaking experiments. Stay tuned to “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time” in the days and weeks ahead in the century of the environment for new developments on this front.

Astronomy will be serious business during the next century


Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

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Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

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