Sunday, June 13, 2010
Hayabusa Asteroid Capsule Has Landed
The Japanese capsule thought to contain the first samples grabbed from the surface of an asteroid has returned to Earth with delightful images from a group of astronomers from NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and other organizations [Japanese TV vid and Australian TV vid].
The science team had a front row seat to observe the Hayabusa spacecraft's fiery plunge into Earth's atmosphere. The team was aboard NASA's DC-8 airborne laboratory, packed with cameras and other imaging instruments, to capture the high-speed re-entry over an unpopulated area of central Australia [video].
One of the more exciting ground videos was posted with some Japanese commentary as the returning capsule glowed bright white, red and green over the Woomera night sky. Here are more reports from the BBC and SpaceflightNow. More information on whether or not the asteroid sample mission was successful will be announced following capsule recovery and analysis over the next few days.