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Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

Treasure Hunting With Hayabusa2

IN THE EARLY hours of 22 February, light was just beginning to brighten the campus of JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS) in Kanagawa, Japan. It should have been a quiet time, but the Hayabusa2 control room was packed with people. We were about to land on an asteroid.

What kind of asteroid is Ryugu?

What do we already know about Ryugu, and why is it so hard to know what it looks like? Hayabusa2 Mission Manger Makoto Yoshikawa

Opposition surge comet

Today, the Rosetta OSIRIS team's Image of the Day is this highly unusual view of the comet with the Sun very nearly behind the spacecraft.

Reading Itokawa's life history from microscopic samples

When Hayabusa's sample return capsule was first opened and found to be very clean-looking inside, I doubted that there could be enough material for laboratory analysis. JAXA announced later that they scraped about 1500 dust grains from the inside with a teflon spatula, and these likely came from Itokawa.

LPSC 2011: Analysis of the grains returned by Hayabusa

I'd been despairing of finding a good source for a writeup of the presentations in the Hayabusa session at last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, but am happy to report that I've finally found an excellent one.

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Small Worlds

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Small Worlds, about the smaller denizens of the solar system visited in the past year, and due to be visited in the next.

Asteroids and comets to scale, including Hartley 2

Just in time for today's Deep Impact press briefing, which you can watch on NASA TV in a few minutes: I've updated my montage of all the asteroids and comets that have been visited and photographed to include Hartley 2.

JAXA announcement: Itokawa sample return successful!

It's official: in a press release today, JAXA announced that some 1,500 dust grains scraped from the interior of Hayabusa's clean-looking sample return capsule are not of terrestrial origin so must be from Itokawa.

Hayabusa's return: a review

Hayabusa's return: round up some of the amazing photos, movies, and artworks that were posted and shared and Tweeted and re-Tweeted over the previous dozen hours or so.

Hayabusa's coming home

It really looks like Hayabusa is going to make it home. Hayabusa's sample return capsule will be returning to Earth on June 13, 2010, landing in the Woomera Prohibited Area, Australia at about 14:00 UTC.

Hayabusa update

JAXA has posted a note on their website on the status of Hayabusa, which apparently reached aphelion in late May. Hayabusa is Japan's amazing ion-powered mission to asteroid Itokawa, which touched down on Itokawa to grab a sample in mid-November 2005, but suffered an injury that has left in doubt its ability to return the sample capsule to Earth.

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