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Monday, June 14, 2010

Hayabusa Spacecraft Reentry Captured on Video
Updated with Enhanced Version in HD

The Hayabusa spacecraft breaks up over Australia

The Hayabusa spacecraft, formerly known as MUSES-C for Mu Space Engineering Spacecraft C, was launched on 9 May 2003 and rendezvoused with Itokawa in mid-September 2005. After arriving at Itokawa, Hayabusa studied the asteroid's shape, spin, topography, colour, composition, density, and history. In November 2005, it landed on the asteroid and attempted to collect samples but it is not clear whether the sampling mechanism worked as intended. Nevertheless, there is a high probability that some dust was trapped in the sampling chamber during contact with the asteroid, so the chamber was sealed, and the spacecraft returned to Earth on June 13, 2010.
The spacecraft also carried a detachable minilander, MINERVA, but this failed to reach the surface. Scientists think that they managed to land the probe on the asteroid and may have collected some dust in this manner. 

The spacecraft burned up during re-entry over the Australian outback yesterday and the probe was successfully parachuted for later recovery. A NASA DC-8 caught this amazing footage of the spacecraft disintegrating over Australia...

For more information, visit the Hayabusa mission page on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency website.

**5.41am** update

Here is an HD version of the above video that offers an enhanced view of the spacecraft breakup...

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