Discussion in '☋ Dumaguete City ☋' started by shadow, Jun 15, 2010.
Sure we do! :D Can you say "alternative career"? :D
Well, it does appear this was probably not a jeepney powered Chinese lantern after all. The time is right for this to have been piece of this;
While most Australians were asleep last night, a Japanese spacecraft made its way through the Earth's atmosphere, lighting up the sky as it crashed in the South Australian outback.
A retrieval team will soon scour the desert near Woomera to see if the Hayabusa asteroid probe survived the landing.
It has been seven years since the Japanese space agency JAXA launched the capsule to collect samples from a near-Earth asteroid called Itokawa.
Technical problems and delays have plagued the mission and scientists are marvelling at the battered spacecraft's feat.
Yoshiyuki Hasegawa from JAXA expressed his relief to reporters at Glendambo near the Woomera test range.
"[The] important point is a capsule soft-landed and we have already identified the location," he said.
"That is a very nice. Very successful, more than we expected and also God save us, weather is a very fine, no cloud and almost no wind so everybody took a picture."
The Hayabusa spacecraft was travelling at 12 kilometres per second when it hit the Earth's atmosphere, burning up on re-entry about 11.30 pm.
The small capsule carrying the asteroid samples was then gently brought down by parachute.
For tens of seconds, the Hayabusa appeared like a slow burning comet.
NASA's Dr Scott Sanford was further north at Coober Pedy watching the light show unfold.
"It was a spectacular show. First of all there is a certain sense of awe to watch this thing come back after making this enormous trip and doing all these amazing things," he said.
"The spacecraft, which was never designed to enter the atmosphere, starts to break up and as a result that broke into many, many pieces which got very bright.
"So you would see puffs and explosions as various pieces came off and then it basically broke out into a large cloud of sort of shooting stars that turned up in the upper atmosphere and disappeared.
"It was bright enough during some of the fall to cast faint shadows on the ground."
Once the capsule landed it began sending out a signal to be retrieved.
Dr Sandford says the capsule is likely to be in one piece.
"The systems all seemed to work great and the parachute came out. The likelihood of it being broken open is very, very small," he said.
"I'd say it is probably in good shape. It would have come down at just the same speed as a parachutist who comes down after jumping out of an airplane."
Dr Doug Gerrie, the director of the Woomera test range, has seen many Japanese-led projects there over the years but says nothing compares to this one.
"This particular story was spectacular before it went wrong," he said.
"Then the technical problems that JAXA had and the amazing work that they did to overcome them and get this spacecraft back through the exact window in the atmosphere that they needed to get it through - it is a story of scientific persistence beyond belief."
Scientists will not know whether there is anything inside the capsule until they lift the lid in Japan.
While the Hayabusa's scooping mechanism may have failed, scientists are confident they will find at least traces of asteroid dust.
They say it takes only a speck to open up a whole new world.
It is hoped the asteroid samples could also help reduce the threat of future asteroid collisions.
Tags: science-and-technology, astronomy, planets-and-asteroids, space-exploration, spacecraft, research, australia, sa, port-augusta-5700, port-pirie-5540, woomera-5720, japan
Even the image accompanying the story got the wife excited;
Japanese space probe crashes to Earth - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Fantastic feat by the Japanese, despite all their technical problems, sampling a meteor indeed, almost as believable as landing on the moon!:D
That's fascinating! And your lucky wife got the chance to witness some scientific history.
Thanks for the news and update.
Actually I did a little reading on the mission, and it was quite fascinating. A bit of history in the making.