Photos from Japan's beleaguered asteroid mission Hayabusa to visit the asteroid Itokawa and collect samples to be returned to Earth. Japanese asteroid probe, Hayabusa, performed a spectacular set of duties at asteroid Itokawa.
Named 25143 Itokawa, this asteroid is some 540 meters by 270 meters by 210 meters. Japan's robotic Hayabusa spacecraft rendezvoused with asteroid Itokawa in mid-September 2005 and studied the space rock's shape, spin, topography, color, composition, densi
Earth return of Japan's Hayabusa asteroid probe and release of its sample capsule.
Japan's ion engine-propelled Hayabusa probe has reached its scientific prey: asteroid Itokawa. The spacecraft is loaded with technology, including sample return tools to snag and bag specimens of the object for transport back to Earth.
Artist's concept of Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft touching down on the asteroid to start sampling operations.
An artist's concept of Japan's Hayabusa landing on the asteroid Itokawa.
Asteroid Itokawa's image captured November 20 by Japan's Hayabusa probe. Note shadow of spacecraft as it maneuvered to a close encounter with the space rock.
A close-up on one of the various spots the Hayabusa probe is surveying on the asteroid Itokawa for a prospective landing site.
Japan's Hayabusa space probe has drawn closer to its celestial target: asteroid Itokawa. The spacecraft is being prepared for touchdown this month on the space rock, picking up specimens for return to Earth, and deploying a small lander that can hop from
Getting down and dirty is the plan for Japan's Hayabusa asteroid probe. Imagery taken by the spacecraft shows the terrain of asteroid Itokawa in preparation for sampling of the space rock.
A target marker dropped by Hayabusa (a bright spot) can be seen on the surface of asteroid Itokawa. Spacecraft shadow is cast upon the space rock.
This still from a NASA video shows the Hayabusa spacecraft as it burned up over Australia during re-entry on June 13, 2010 to cap a 7-year mission to the asteroid Itokawa. Hayabusa ejected a sample return capsule (bright dot at lower right) before burning up. It landed in the Australian outback and has been recovered.
Hayabusa's sample return capsule and parachute lie on the ground in Australia's Woomera Prohibited Area.
This scanning electron microscope image shows mineral particles from asteroid Itokawa (red) collected from a sample container from Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft, which visited the asteroid in 2005 and returned to Earth in June 2010.