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Emily LakdawallaJune 13, 2010

Welcome home, Hayabusa!

At 13:51 UTC, the Hayabusa spacecraft—having traveled to an asteroid and back, surviving countless challenges—broke up into a fiery meteor over the midnight, midwinter Australian sky.

Hayabusa lights up the Australian sky (animation)

Wakayama University

Hayabusa lights up the Australian sky (animation)
In ten screen caps from a Web camera feed run by Wakayama University, the Hayabusa spacecraft ends its seven-year mission by burning up over Australian skies.

Its capsule should now be on the ground. Word via Twitter is that the beacon signal was picked up from the capsule. It will be tracked and located via helicopter tonight, but they will not go out to retrieve it until daylight, some hours from now.

It's a day both triumphant and sad. Many, many congratulations to the #Hayabusa team!! I will keep Tweeting news as I get it!

Here's the whole video -- the fireball's about 3 minutes in:


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

And here's an amazing shot from Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper:

Hayabusa lights up the Australian sky

Yomiuri Shimbun

Hayabusa lights up the Australian sky
A view of Hayabusa burning up over Australia courtesy of the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shumbun.

Read more: pretty pictures, Hayabusa (MUSES-C), mission status, spacecraft

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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