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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 14, 2005 0:19:20 GMT -6
Hayabusa's First Practice Asteroid Descent
Japanese asteroid probe Hayabusa, currently hovering around a near Earth asteroid Itokawa, commenced its descent at 19:17 GMT on November 3rd under command from the ground, when its altitude above the surface was about 3.5 km.
It practised calibrating its proximity laser range finders, visibility calibration and image processing of a target marker as well as deploying a hopping robot Minerva.
Down to about 700 meters in attitude, both attitude and trajectory control were performed by Hayabusa's proprietary autonomous guidance and navigation capability as planned. However, the onboard navigation computer detected anomalous data and an abort command was transmitted from the ground at 03:30 GMT on November 4th. Subsequent scheduled events were cancelled and the spacecraft fired its chemical engines and started ascent.
When the operation was completed by JAXA's Usuda station, radio communication to the spacecraft and attitude control were all operational and the instruments aboard were all functioning normally. Despite the interruption, the project team thinks it obtained valuable experience during this practice descent flight.
The project intends to perform a second practice descent. As of today, the rehearsal schedule together with those for two touching-down and sampling missions have not yet been decided.
The cause of the interruption and how it was dealt with are presently under investigation and the details will be released after review.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 14, 2005 20:32:09 GMT -6
Link 'lost' with asteroid robot
Hayabusa captured its shadow on the surface of Itokawa
Japan's space agency has lost contact with a robotic probe that it dispatched to explore the surface of an asteroid, according to reports.
The small probe called Minerva was released from its mothership Hayabusa on Saturday, but officials say its "current status is still unknown".
Hayabusa is hovering near asteroid Itokawa, in preparation to collect surface samples for return to Earth.
It should begin its return voyage to Earth next month to arrive in 2007.
But the loss of Minerva comes as a blow to Japan's ambitious plan to make the first two-way trip to an asteroid.
"[Minerva] didn't touch down and we're not sure where it will go," Japanese space agency (Jaxa) spokesman Kiyotaka Yashiro said, "Hayabusa took a photo of Minerva floating between it and the asteroid. It was just a dot."
The 600g cylindrical probe Minerva was to have photographed the asteroid's surface and recorded temperatures there.
"Sending Minerva to the surface did not work," Junichiro Kawaguchi, the mission's project manager, told Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
"Hayabusa is jerking in an awkward manner, likely due to a malfunction of its positioning control system, but we want to fix that in time for its landing on 19 November."
How many missions have suffered a problem? It doesn't matter how big or small. Space is very rude, and crude. However, I'd not feel satisfied if, we were enabled in such a way, to REALLY deliver a payload into earth orbit, and it fail. This should be a grand lesson to make you actually realize that space is not easy. It's very cold, and cruel. The slightest mistake will jeopardize your mission. No one is perfect, no matter how smart, and collective we become. Space shows us who is the boss. These types of failures are very disheartening.
Ultimately, but not very comforting at all, is the fact that people learn more about space daily, even where their mission fails. We, being a modest group are the recipients of it all. In contrary... failure should always be an option, at least, and merely honoring the fact that it can happen. Be happy for those that succeeded.
When I look up, and see a satellite... I know it's name. I know if it's dead or alive. I feel like a kid from the 50's who received a handshake, and autograph from Mickey Mantle. What I'm saying is they got the idea to space, sometimes things just don't go as planned.
Finally I don't see them regaing control of Minerva, but they did try. Sometimes dreams come true, sometimes they don't. I give them a respectable thumbs up!
RIS Minerva... Maybe someday, someone will find you...
Last Edit: Nov 15, 2005 10:52:38 GMT -6 by Rocketman
Grady -The official satellite hunter of the Chicago Astronomer forum.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 15, 2005 23:36:02 GMT -6
Notice the great detailed images from the Japanese, in great contrast to the NASA images sent back. How come...eh?
And this object has no craters. Another oddity.
There's still a chance that Minerva may yet impact the asteroid. I understand that it is still in the general area, and that the main craft sensed it was approaching the rock too fast, and backed off...just when the signal was sent to release Minerva. The whole trajectory became off and ergo...a missed target.
It is hoped that the solar wind will slow it down and let the rock hit it...slim, but still a chance.
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
Telescope/Observatory Docent Facilitator Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Astronomy Instructor Instituto Del Progresso/IHSCA
Astronomy Program Instructor British International School of Chicago /Lincoln Park Campus
Resident Astronomer Chicago Park District Nature Oasis/Night Out in the Parks/ 606 Trail
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 23, 2005 18:59:21 GMT -6
Japanese probe touches down on asteroid: space agency
A Japanese spacecraft successfully touched down on an asteroid as part of a landmark mission but failed to drop equipment to collect samples, Japan's space agency said Wednesday.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) had previously said that the attempted landing on Sunday failed after the Hayabusa space probe suffered a glitch and was unable to confirm its altitude.
However, the agency said in an update that the spacecraft in fact managed to touch down on the bean-shaped Itokawa asteroid located 290 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth for about 30 minutes, Kyodo News reported.
It was the first landing by a Japanese space vehicle on an astronomic object, the agency said.
JAXA will decide Thursday whether to make a second attempt to land Hayabusa. Although the body of the probe has not suffered any major damage, some of its censors need to be checked, the agency said.
If the mission succeeds it would be the first time that material from an asteroid is brought to Earth and could help scientists learn more about how the solar system was created.
JAXA said last Friday that the spacecraft had released a "target marker", a small metal ball, 40 meters (132 feet) from the asteroid to mark the point where the six-meter spacecraft would gather rock and sand from the 500-metre-wide celestial body.
But shortly afterward the Hayabusa suffered a technical problem and temporarily lost contact with Earth.
The spacecraft was also meant to leave an aluminium plate bearing the names of 880,000 people from 149 countries, among them US filmmaker Steven Spielberg and British science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, on the asteroid.
The agency also earlier lost contact with a micro-rover released from Hayabusa after the small robot failed to land on the asteroid.
The robot, called Minerva and weighing less than 600 grams (21 ounces), was designed to investigate the surface of the asteroid with three small cameras.
Hayabusa was launched in May 2003 with a budget of 12.7 billion yen (just over 100 million dollars) and is scheduled to return to Earth in June 2007.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 28, 2005 17:02:10 GMT -6
Japan Probe 'Almost Certainly' Collected First-Ever Asteroid Samples
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 26, 2005 A Japanese spacecraft successfully landed on a far-away asteroid Saturday for a second time and almost certainly collected the first-ever samples from such a celestial body, Japan's space agency said. The Hayabusa probe is on a landmark mission to bring back material from the Itokawa asteroid 290 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth to help scientists learn more about how the solar system was created.
It could also provide vital information about the composition and structure of asteroids for any future efforts to deflect a celestial object on a collision course with Earth.
The unmanned craft fired a small metal ball at the asteroid's surface to stir up material for collection and the operation went "without failure," a spokesman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.
The mission was all the more difficult because the potato-shaped Itokawa asteroid -- 540 meters (590 yards) long and 270 meters wide on the larger end -- is revolving and has very low gravity, making it tough for Hayabusa to land on a targeted site such as a flat area on the jagged surface.
However, the six-meter probe successfully touched down at 7:07 am Japanese local time (2207 GMT Friday) and its computer system shot the metal ball to collect samples as programmed before taking off again, said JAXA official Yasunori Matoba.
The probe had already touched down on the asteroid on the previous Sunday -- the first time that a space probe has landed and departed from such a celestial body -- but failed to collect material on that occasion as it temporarily lost contact with Earth for technical reasons.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 30, 2005 11:59:35 GMT -6
Hayabusa Thruster Problems May Prevent Asteroid Sample Return To Earth
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 26, 2005 The Japanese Hayabusa probe, believed to have collected the first-ever samples from an asteroid- has been hit by technical trouble that could mean the landmark mission ends in failure, officials said Tuesday.
The unmanned six-meter (20-foot) craft is supposed to begin returning to Earth in mid-December.
But the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which operates the probe, said it found a problem with one of its thrusters designed to control its position.
"Because of the trouble, we have failed to set its antenna facing Earth," a spokeswoman said. "We cannot begin its return operation until we can fix the trouble."
The spokeswoman said JAXA has to wait for another three years if it misses a planned departure time in mid-December, when a distance between Earth and the asteroid is "ideal for its return trip."
"Even if we can try again in three years, it is not certain if the battery of Hayabusa can be still used."
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 7, 2005 22:03:47 GMT -6
Japan Says Landmark Asteroid Probe Likely To Have Failed
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 07, 2005 A Japanese spacecraft is likely to have failed in its landmark mission to collect the first-ever samples from an asteroid and also faces trouble returning to Earth, the space program said Wednesday. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency had earlier said the Hayabusa probe "most probably" succeeded in gathering dust from the Itokawa asteroid, 290 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth, in late November.
"But now we found that the possibility is very high that a metal bullet to collect samples was actually not fired," said an official of the agency, which operates the probe.
"And therefore possibilities are also very high that Hayabusa has failed to collect samples," the official said, adding the agency still had a "slim" hope the probe may have caught some dust.
The unmanned six-meter (20-foot) craft was supposed to begin returning to Earth in mid-December with samples but has a problem with one of its thrusters.
The space agency must wait for another three years if the probe misses a planned departure time in mid-December, when the distance between Earth and the asteroid is ideal.
Even if the return trip can be attempted again in three years, it is not certain if the battery of Hayabusa can be still used, officials said.
They'll try again, having learned from the problems of this attempt. Sure I wish this would have succeeded, but we will, sooner or later. And by we I mean humanity. We're reaching for the stars, all of us.
If the universe is a ball the size of America, then the solar system is almost as large as the smallest cell in the human body.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 10, 2005 2:34:36 GMT -6
Seriously damaged Hayabusa making best efforts to come back to Earth
Thursday, December 8, 2005 Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
The Hayabusa project team has gradually restored communications between the Hayabusa, who lost its attitude control just after its touchdown on Nov. 26, and ground stations by taking various emergency measures. According to the very limited information received so far, "The explorer is still alive, but the communication function was seriously damaged. It is almost a miracle that it functions at all." (Mr. Kawaguchi, Project Manager)
It was also found that there is a possibility that the projectile for sampling was not discharged. It is very hard to find out what has been really going on through only partial information. The project team will keep making its best efforts to have the explorer come back to Earth including re-setting its orbit.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 13, 2005 3:40:47 GMT -6
Fate of Japan's troubled asteroid probe still uncertain
Posted: December 11, 2005
Japanese officials are struggling to fix a horde of problems plaguing the Hayabusa space mission in time to begin its journey back to Earth with or without a package of specimens that were supposed to have been collected from the surface of asteroid Itokawa late last month.
The issues have delayed the return trip to Earth that was due to begin within the first ten days of December, according to previous news reports. New information also suggests the last ditch effort to collect the world's first samples from an asteroid - first described as a success - may not have achieved its goal.
After a November 26 approach to gather samples from the potato-shaped space rock, the 1,000-pound probe encountered a series of difficulties with its chemical propulsion system that is responsible for controlling the craft's orientation.
First, as scientists rejoiced after an apparent successful end to a highly ambitious three-month stay in the vicinity of Itokawa, controllers noted a propellant leak in Subsystem B, one of two attitude control subsystems aboard Hayabusa. Commands were sent to shut latching valves aboard both subsystems, and the spacecraft was left in safe mode as conditions were slowly stabilized.
Hayabusa had earlier gone into safe mode last month, but officials worked several days to finally recover the probe to set up a pair of sampling attempts in the succeeding weeks.
However, this time the revival was not as trouble-free, and communications passes in the next few days were not able to bring back Hayabusa to normal operations. Control jets in Subsystem A were not producing enough thrust to point the craft's high gain antenna toward Earth. Investigations since then have concluded this was likely due to frozen propellant, while a "severe fuel leak continued," a status report said.
During this period, Hayabusa was also suffering a serious electricity shortage that almost fully drained the battery, engineers now believe. On November 28, no communications were received from the spacecraft at all, but a low bandwidth beacon signal was obtained the next day. By November 30, recovery operations began in earnest with the aid of the on-board computer than can work without help from the ground.
"It was unusually fortunate that the spacecraft recovered the attitude, power, and communications," a December 8 internal update said.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 14, 2005 21:18:06 GMT -6
Japanese Asteroid Probe Stuck In Space Until 2010 Possibly Forever
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 14, 2005 A Japanese spacecraft which failed on its landmark mission to collect asteroid samples suffered a new setback Wednesday with its return to Earth delayed by three years until 2010. The Hayabusa spacecraft, which last month approached the asteroid 290 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth, has been out of control since Friday because of a gas burst caused by leaking fuel.
The six-meter (20-foot) unmanned spacecraft was set to depart in mid-December, when the distance between Earth and the asteroid is ideal, and drop a capsule in the Australian outback in June 2007.
But the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said it now expected the spacecraft back in June 2010 as it will be another three years before the travelling distance is practical.
"This is disappointing, but we'll spend the coming year to rescue the craft and retrieve it in June 2010 if we can control it again by the beginning of 2007," project manager Junichiro Kawaguchi said at a press conference.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 16, 2005 11:30:30 GMT -6
Hayabusa Team Trying To Restore Communications With Spacecraft
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Dec 16, 2005 The Hayabusa spacecraft is currently undergoing recovery operations to resume communication with ground stations on Earth after being hit by an abrupt torque, caused by the fuel leak that occurred a few days earlier, that has put it out of ground contact since December 9.
The project team expects to resume communication with the spacecraft soon. However, we are not so sure now if we can get the spacecraft to return to earth by June 2007 and have decided to lengthen the flight period by three more years so that it returns in June 2010.
The Hayabusa web page will report any updates, as soon as they become available.