Feeds

Japan's asteroid probe did land, after all

Might have another go, too

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.