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Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa"

HAYABUSA PROJECT SITE

The current return cruise schedule back to the earth around 2010.
For additional information, please visit our website at here.
Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center

Dec.28,2011

On December 23, Science Magazine selected the achievements of Hayabusa initial analysis as the hot news for 2011.
As a result of the initial analysis, we have identified space weathering and proved of the hypothesis that "the origin of most ordinary meteor would be asteroid", which has been only an assumption, was widely picked up.

  • Science Magazine > Breakthrough of the Year, 2011

  • Here is the messages from the Hayabusa Project Manager and the Former Hayabusa Project Manager.





    It is a great honor that it is selected as the 10 hot news of the Science Magazine, and we are very glad that we could bring such a wonderful achievement as the Hayabusa project.

    I suppose that Itokawa's particles are not only a treasure for Japan, but also for the all over the world. I hope that the analysis will be proceeded by the scientists in the world, and also hope that it would contribute to revealing the riddles and the mysteries of the universe furthermore.


    "Hayabusa" Project Team Project Manager
    Makoto Yoshikawa


    I feel it is more than a dream because the Hayabusa project made the cover of the "Science Magazine" twice, which any other Japanese space projects have not accomplished yet.

    The fact that the achievements of Hayabusa initial analysis have been selected for the 10 hot news of the Science Magazine 2011 implies the evidence of the accomplishment of the project members who dedicated themselves more than the past 15 years.
    Congratulations, everyone.

    I believe that it expresses objectively that we are on the right track about our space development we should engage in.


    Former "Hayabusa" Project Team Project Manager
    Jun'ichiro Kawaguchi






    Jun.10,2010

    The capsule recovery team sent us two awesome photos of the night rehearsal from Australia!

    Night Rehearsal.







    Jun.8,2010

    Hayabusa project team successfully completed the most critical maneuver TCM-3 from June 3rd to 5th.

    It made the trajectory flying by the Earth rim to the Woomera Prohibited Area, a designated landing area. Attached is the relevant information regarding the approach geometry. It also presents the reentry objects light trace seen from Glendambo city, South Australia. On June 9th, the final TCM-4 will be conducted to precisely target the landing point near the recovery team already deployed.

    Hayabusa Captured its Home Earth.



    May.31,2010

    Hayabusa started its TCM-2 operation from May 24th and completed it on May 27th.

    TCM-2 is the largest orbit correction among a series of TCMs. The operation was performed almost as planned and the ion engine aboard worked in order. Currently the rigorous orbit estimation is under way, but the project thinks the TCM-2 successfully guided the spacecraft well within the intended zone for the TCM-3.

    Hayabusa completed the correction TCM-2.


    May.17,2010

    Hayabusa successfully photographed its home Earth and Moon on May 12th last week, by using the CCD sensor on the Star Tracker instrument aboard.

    The Earth was seen so brightly that the image contained strong smear in it, but the image clearly separates the Moon from the Earth. (Magnitude of the Earth is -8.3, and that of Moon is -4.6.) The Earth was seen between Sagittarius and Capricornus. Hayabusa will continue to voyage back to Earth at the speed of 18 thousand kilometer per hour.

    Hayabusa is now on the final approach to Woomera.


    Earth was seen between Sagittarius and Capricornus.


    May.11,2010

    It was the Hayabusa's 7 years old birthday on 9th. TCM-1 was successfully performed between May 1st and May 4th, last week.

    The distance to the Earth seems to have been reduced not so much. This is true. The purpose of TCM-1 was to control the instance of flying by Australia. With the combination with TCM-2, the vectorized and synthesized delta-V constitute the aimed delta-V toward the Sun. There is a strict attitude constraint imposed on the spacecraft. The attached figures comprehensively provide the essence of this operation. This week, Hayabusa will reduce the wheel speed that has accumulated the solar radiation disturbance. And the precise orbit determination will be performed for TCM-2 after that.

    Hayabusa completed the correction TCM-1.


    May.6,2010

    JAXA confirmed that TCM-1 operation was successfully completed at 11:57 a.m. on May 4 (Japan Standard Time.) By this operation, the passage time over Australia was tuned. The distance between the Hayabusa and the Earth is around 16.6 million km as of May 4, and the Hayabusa spacecraft system is in good condition.

    HAYABUSA:TCM-1 operation was successfully completed.


    Apr.23,2010 Return of Sample Recovery Capsule aboard Asteroid Explorer "HAYABUSA"

    The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) would like to announce that it was issued the Authorized Return of Overseas Launch Space Object (AROLSO) for the Sample Recovery Capsule aboard the Asteroid Explorer "HAYABUSA" from the Space Licensing and Safety Office (SLASO) of the Australian Government on Friday, April 16th.

    The capsule is scheduled to return to the Earth in June 2010. According to the latest information, the capsule will reenter into the atmosphere at around 11:00 p.m. on June 13th, 2010, (Japan Standard Time, or 14:00 UTC* on the day) at the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia. The "HAYABUSA" project team continues to carefully operate the spacecraft ahead of the reentry, and will release any updated information to the public whenever it becomes available.

    *UTC: Universal Time, Coordinated

    Outline of trajectory guidance based on the latest trajectory plan (The plan is subject to change due to operational status or analysis.)


    Apr.12,2010

    The project team schedules five TCMs until the reentry in June. Impact parameter distance is gradually reduced as the attached figures indicate. The impact parameter means the distance from the center of Earth that the spacecraft passes over, in case no Earth gravity acts on it.

    From this time on, the trajectory information update is presented in different formats from before, where impact parameter and inclination of incoming orbit are plotted along with the TCMs. During every TCM, NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) provides around the clock tracking, telemetry and commanding supports, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology provides the velocity variation information all the time during each TCM. Hayabusa, if seen, will be a little east of Pollux in Gemini this April and May. Hayabusa approaches Earth right along on the line of the sight.

    Hayabusa successfully completed its initial correction (TCM-0).


    Mar.31,2010

    Hayabusa terminated its long term propulsion on March 27th. According to the orbit estimated on March 31st, it was confirmed that the resulted trajectory will pass through the target point as planned.

    In the BR-BT plane, the final spot in the figure clearly shows the guidance and navigation made the intended point precisely reached. However, according to the trajectory predict in the inertial frame, the trajectory shows a more sharp bend motion after it passes the Earth. It is due to the guidance error that still remains with respect to the target. The project team has introduced an alterative ion engine operation configuration from last November. The configuration conceals us from looking into an important information that affects the ion engine thrust magnitude, and this leads to the unexpected trajectory control error. As this loci indicate, swingby schemes are very sensitive to the guidance error generally, while the method is a mighty power to greatly amend the trajectory and useful. This thing is what we frequently face, when we adopt the swingby, in other word, the gravity assist operation. From now on until June, Hayabusa is guided through several times of ion engine burns to accurately target the landing area. Being assisted by the NASA Deep Space Network, by being monitored all the time via the ground stations in real time, the subsequent corrections will be rigorously performed with this error excluded thoroughly.

    Hayabusa about to enter into Earth’s gravity sphere.





    Mar.31,2010

    Hayabusa terminated its long term propulsion on March 27th. According to the orbit estimated on March 31st, it was confirmed that the resulted trajectory will pass through the target point as planned.

    In the BR-BT plane, the final spot in the figure clearly shows the guidance and navigation made the intended point precisely reached. However, according to the trajectory predict in the inertial frame, the trajectory shows a more sharp bend motion after it passes the Earth. It is due to the guidance error that still remains with respect to the target. The project team has introduced an alterative ion engine operation configuration from last November. The configuration conceals us from looking into an important information that affects the ion engine thrust magnitude, and this leads to the unexpected trajectory control error. As this loci indicate, swingby schemes are very sensitive to the guidance error generally, while the method is a mighty power to greatly amend the trajectory and useful. This thing is what we frequently face, when we adopt the swingby, in other word, the gravity assist operation. From now on until June, Hayabusa is guided through several times of ion engine burns to accurately target the landing area. Being assisted by the NASA Deep Space Network, by being monitored all the time via the ground stations in real time, the subsequent corrections will be rigorously performed with this error excluded thoroughly.

    Hayabusa about to enter into Earth’s gravity sphere.





    Mar.25,2010

    Hayabusa has been propelled, and it successfully traversed from day side to night side, having flown over the south pole, having avoided collision to the Earth.

    On 27th of this month, Hayabusa completed its long ion engine propulsion from last spring, and it stopped the ion engine on the day. The impact parameter on BR-BT plane, when converted, says the instantaneous closest distance now is about 20 thousand kilometers from the center of Earth. What is left is a series of trajectory corrections, and the project team is finalizing the preparations for them.

    Hayabusa traversed over south pole and will fly-by at night side of Earth.





    Mar.17,2010

    Ion engines aboard Hayabusa have worked well. 21st Monday is a national holiday in Japan and this status update becomes late. From this week, the orbit information is shown in magnified figures asbelow. They may need some explanation.

    When the reentry capsule is made plunge into atmosphere, it must fly in the direction compliant with the Earth rotation direction so that the entry speed can be lowered. It means the incoming trajectory needs to approach from the night of the Earth, while current approach is from the day side of the Earth. And the trajectory must traverse to the opposite side from present flight path. The resulted outgoing path after the virtual swingby will leave Earth in opposite direction when this traverse completes. When move to the other side, an unintended interruption of the ion engine propulsion has to be taken into account and even an instantaneous trajectory shall not run cross the Earth disk. And the sophisticated orbit maneuver is devised to fly over the Antarctica on the way. The continuous ion engine propulsion lasts until the end of March, when Hayabusa will be guided to a tentative target point with respect to the Earth. It is intentionally set very far from the Earth taking the enough guidance error into account, when Hayabusa reaches the point avoiding inadvertent entry to the atmosphere. Hayabusa's attitude controllability is well operable, but the orbit correction direction is not arbitrary and restricted. Hayabusa is awkward in exhibiting thrust in Sun or anti-Sun direction. In order that the orbit correction can be performed mostly in the tangential direction to the orbital motion around the Sun in a series of orbit corrections from April, the target point should be tactically prescribed and defined. As of March 20th, an instantaneous closest distance to Earth this June will be 46 thousand kilometers. Hayabusa soon reaches the orbit that passes through within a geosynchronous orbit.

    Hayabusa will skim the geosynchronous orbit.





    Mar.10,2010

    From last week to this week, a precise orbit determination has been performed and the closest distance was not improved much.

    The current closest distance to Earth is about 130 thousand kilometers. The figure attached tells the outbound trajectory from Earth veers off showing the swingby characteristics. From now on, the ion engines are operated to target the prescribed point around the Earth, and the decreasing speed for the closest distance will be decelerated.

    Hayabusa now at the Final Guidance Phase





    Mar.03,2010

    Hayabusa is now on the orbit passing within the half of the Moon's distance, at 160 thousand kilometers.

    From March 5th, the ion engines aboard will stop and the high precision orbit estimation is performed. From now on, not only the distance but also the approach direction are going to be tuned.

    Hayabusa passes within half of the Moon’s distance





    Feb.24,2010

    Hayabusa has kept the approach path right on the course targeted to the Earth.

    The closest approach to the Earth is 600 thousand kilometers as of today. And in a few weeks, Hayabusa will be on the trajectory passing through within the Moon's distance. The ion engines aboard have worked normally last week. The distance between the spacecraft and the Sun is gradually decreasing to 1AU that is the revolution radius of the Earth. The temperature measured at various points on the spacecraft increases gradually, and the project team has started to tackle with the heater control to prevent over-heating. The radio communication time is now only two minutes each way with enhanced bit rate.

    Hayabusa, now will pass within Moon’s distance.





    Feb.17,2010

    This week, the estimated orbit concluded that the Hayabusa would be on the path skimming the Moon orbit this June.

    The closest approach distance from the Earth is found 470 thousand kilometers, just above the Moon's orbit. Now the goal for reentry has loomed eventually.

    Hayabusa is skimming the Moon.





    Feb.10,2010

    Hayabusa has kept the approach path right on the course targeted to the Earth.

    The closest approach to the Earth is 600 thousand kilometers as of today. And in a few weeks, Hayabusa will be on the trajectory passing through within the Moon's distance. The ion engines aboard have worked normally last week. The distance between the spacecraft and the Sun is gradually decreasing to 1AU that is the revolution radius of the Earth. The temperature measured at various points on the spacecraft increases gradually, and the project team has started to tackle with the heater control to prevent over-heating. The radio communication time is now only two minutes each way with enhanced bit rate.

    Hayabusa, Right on the Course





    Jan.27,2010

    It was confirmed that the closest approach distance this June will be within 1 million kilometers. Every week the ion engine aboard the spacecraft reduces the distance 150 thousand kilometers per week.

    It is 2.5 times as far as that to the moon. In about a month, the distance will become shorter than that to the moon. Currently, the spacecraft is at 1.3 Astronautical Unit (AU) from the Sun and at 0.3 AU from the Earth.

    Hayabusa will approach within 1million km from Earth





    Jan.20,2010

    The orbit determination this week indicates the closest approach distance to Earth is now around 1.15 million kilometers, which is about three times as distant as that to the Moon.

    The burn time left for ion engines aboard is two months. While the figures show how the Hayabusa mother ship returns back to Earth, the project team is struggling to have the Reentry Capsule recovery on the gerund with much more accurate navigation and guidance.

    Hayabusa Approach in Order with Two More Months of Ion Engines Burn Left





    Jan.13,2010

    Hayabusa this week has further narrowed the closest approach distance to Earth, and the distance has become down to about 1.4 million kilometers.The out-of-plane approach direction is also on the exact path planned as the figures indicate.

    The fact that the spacecraft is on the path passing through the Earth gravity sphere does mean that Hayabusa has accomplished its round-trip cruise from Earth, by way of Itokawa and back to Earth. Hayabusa is now the world's first spacecraft returning back to Earth after landing and lifting off the surface of a celestial object outside Earth-Moon system.

    The project plans to make it fly within Moon's distance next, and reentry into Earth atmosphere, and recovery of the capsule on the ground.It is currently at around 60 million kilometers from Earth with additional ion engine propulsion for two months.

    Hayabusa now on a path passing through Earth’s gravity sphere





    Jan.6,2010

    The orbital information was updated on January 6th, since Hayabusa restarted its ion engine propulsion last week. The instantaneous closest approach distance has now got down to 1.6 million kilometer from Earth, which is almost that of the boundary of Earth gravity sphere.

    The radius of the sphere is not definite, and depending on various views, the radius is differently and alternatively defined. However, what we call Hill's sphere is conceived an objective indicator as Earth gravity sphere, since the Lagrange points L1 and L2 are theoretically on the sphere boundary. The distance is 1.5 million kilometer.

    Next week, when the next updated orbit information is obtained, the project team can clearly state that Hayabusa is now on the path passing through the Earth gravity sphere, which means the project will have succeeded in having guided Hayabusa spacecraft back home.

    ※Note even though the path passes through Earth gravity sphere, it does not mean Hayabusa is spontaneously captured by Earth.

    Hayabusa about to enter into Earth’s gravity sphere





    Dec.31,2009

    Hayabusa had performed the ion engine cruise by December 27th, when it stopped the propulsion until January 1st in order that the precise orbit determination was to be conducted. The task designated as Orbit Determination was participated not only by JAXA antenna but also by NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) antenna which provided the Delta-VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) measurements gathering the accurate information as to position and velocity of the spacecraft.

    On January 1st, Hayabusa successfully restarted its ion engine again in a new combined mode that was established last November. The distance to the Hayabusa from Earth has now been lower than 0.5 AU, and next week, the project team is sure to state that the Hayabusa is on a return path coming into the sphere of Earth's gravity.

    Hayabusa about to enter into Earth’s gravity sphere





    Dec.24,2009

    Hayabusa has continued propelled by the ion engine aboard.
    The latest trajectory information predicts the closest distance to the Earth, when the rest of the flight is ballistic, will be lower than 2 million kilometers as presented in the attached file.
    During the year-end to new-year, Hayabusa plans to stop the ion engine propulsion, and the precise orbit determination is performed to build the thrusting plans until next March based on it.
    Hayabusa will have brief holidays like us.
    The project team thinks that early next month it can present the news that Hayabusa will return back within the Earth gravity sphere.

    Hayabusa about to enter into Earth’s gravity sphere

    Dec.17,2009

    Hayabusa operation was restored in the middle of November after it suffered from the ion engine's neutralizer malfunction occurred at the beginning of November. Current new ion engines configuration has worked normally.
    Hayabusa is still in a distance, almost 100 million kilometers from the Earth, however, it is evidently approaching closer to the Earth. Attached figures show that Hayabusa will fly-by at the distance of 2 million kilometers from the Earth, even when the ion engines are turned off now. The distance is 5 times as far as that to the Moon, and is 1.4 times as far as the radius of the Earth's gravity sphere. Getting into Earth gravity field now becomes real, and will be confirmed in the middle of January. Hayabusa is tackling the Earth gradually at the rate of 150 to 200 thousand kilometers every week. One figure seems to indicate that shooting the Earth occurs in March, but the actual return is still several months ahead.
    The Hayabusa project team will update whenever any new information becomes available. We will soon be ready to say Welcome Back Home, Hayabusa.

    Hayabusa approaching closer to Earth

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