Feeds

Japan's asteroid probe did land, after all

Might have another go, too

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Japan's Hayabusa space probe did land on its asteroid target, mission scientists confirmed today, but was not able to activate its sample collection equipment while it was on Itokawa's surface.

The spacecraft, which is on a mission to collect a sample of the asteroid Ikotawa and return it to Earth, lost contact with mission controllers for three hours on Sunday, just as it was approaching its landing site. Initially the Japanese space agency (Jaxa) announced that the landing attempt had failed, the BBC reports, but closer examination of the data revealed that it had in fact been on the surface for about 30 minutes.

Although the collection equipment failed, the team says it is possible that the craft might have disturbed enough dust just by landing for some to have been scooped up. The craft is designed to fire pellets into the asteroid and lift off from the surface to collect the dust thrown up.

"The object has not been co-operative at all. It is an incredibly nasty place to land," Dr Andy Cheng of Johns Hopkins University told the BBC.

"The surface is strewn with very angular, large rocks - much more so than was expected. They've picked the most benign looking spot, but it has not turned out to be very benign."

Jaxa is expected to announce today whether or not it will make a second attempt at landing and collecting a sample.

Weighed against it are several critical factors: the craft needs to begin its journey back to Earth this week, to make the most of the dynamics of the solar system. But it isn't clear how much fuel is left and its control systems are in pretty poor shape. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.