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Emily LakdawallaOctober 4, 2005

A piece of a new picture from Hayabusa

The Hayabusa mission has proven to be a bit of a tease -- they were releasing lots of images to the public as they approached asteroid Itokawa, but once they arrived, the image releases shut down entirely. There is finally a little postage stamp of an image captured by Hayabusa at "home position," only 7 kilometers from the asteroid, compared here to a picture taken from "gate position," 20 kilometers away:

Asteroid Itokawa from Hayabusa at

JAXA

Asteroid Itokawa from Hayabusa at "Home Position"
Captured from a distance of 7 kilometers.
Asteroid Itokawa from Hayabusa at

JAXA

Asteroid Itokawa from Hayabusa at "Gate Position"
Captured from a distance of 20 kilometers.

I guess that what they were releasing before were what they considered "optical navigation" photos (images taken by the spacecraft in order to fine-tune its navigation to Itokawa). But now that they've gotten close enough to do science, the website says, "Hayabusa project has refrained from releasing high resolution images in order to retain the scientific output built inside the science team." There's more information on the JAXA website.

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Read more: pretty pictures, asteroids, asteroid 25143 Itokawa, Hayabusa (MUSES-C)

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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