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Emily LakdawallaJune 13, 2010

Hayabusa sample capsule photographed on the ground in Australia

Oh my wonderful little flying saucer, you have been to an asteroid and back -- and you were burning like a star last night! And there you are, sitting quietly in the desert, just waiting to be retrieved...

Hayabusa sample return capsule sitting in the Woomera desert, Australia

JAXA

Hayabusa sample return capsule sitting in the Woomera desert, Australia
On June 14, 2010, following its dramatic, fiery reentry the night before, the Hayabusa sample return capsule sat on the ground in the Woomera Prohibited Area, Australia, waiting to be retrieved.

Clearly I've been affected by reading so many automated translations of Japanese text over the last 24 hours. But this is such a welcome sight. To be perfectly honest, while I knew the trajectory corrections had worked and Hayabusa was going to crash to Earth, I lacked confidence that the capsule separation would work, and I don't think I ever believed the parachute and beacon would work, after the extra 3-year delay; I figured the battery wouldn't work and at best we'd have Genesis on our hands again, with the capsule crashed into the desert and broken open. I really never believed it would work so well. I'm sorry, Hayabusa mission and JAXA, for my lack of faith! You really have accomplished something amazing.

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

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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