On This Day In Space: Nov. 19, 2005: Japan’s Hayabusa spacecraft makes 1st liftoff from an asteroid (Image Credit: Space.com)
On Nov. 19, 2005, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa (HI-uh-BOOS-uh) made the first liftoff from an asteroid. Hayabusa was supposed to return asteroid samples to Earth.
Asteroids are space rocks that were formed during the early solar system. We study asteroids to learn more about the solar system’s history. Hayabusa made two touchdowns on asteroid Itokawa (EE -toh-KA-wah). Each time, the spacecraft went into safe mode.
Hayabusa unexpectedly broke up in Earth’s atmosphere. Luckily, the sample return capsule survived. Scientists found dust of Itokawa inside the capsule. Hayabusa spurred the creation of another sample-return mission. The new spacecraft is called Hayabusa2. It arrived at asteroid Ryugu (REE-ooh-goo) in 2018.
Controllers weren’t sure if Hayabusa gathered any material. But they sent the spacecraft back to Earth anyway.
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