Tak Iyori from The Planetary Society of Japan has sent us a couple of updates on the status of Hayabusa and the mission's plans for landing on Itokawa:
ISAS/JAXA announced dates for sampling, first Saturday, Nov. 19 and second Friday, November 25. The target marker containing approximately 880,000 names will be released at the first sampling. The site for second sampling will be a flat surface, maybe a dust pond called Muses Sea.
The following is FYI on Hayabusa's first sampling scheduled for Saturday, November 19: Hayabusa will start descending at midnight of November 18. Hayabusa will touch the surface of Itokawa for sampling around from 2 through 3 a.m. on November 19. If condition is set for doing it. Press conference for the result of sampling will be held at 8p.m. at the earliest on the same day. You can see Hayabusa's sampling process live in English at http://www.isas.jaxa.jp/home/hayabusa-live/
I do hope they manage to land. They have been doing an incredible job maneuvering Hayabusa around Itokawa with only one reaction wheel and thrusters. Landing under those conditions is going to be an extremely difficult task. Keep your fingers crossed.
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