Japan launches asteroid probe Hayabusa-2
Japan has launched H-IIA rocket carrying a space probe- Hayabusa2 destined for a distant asteroid 1999JU3. The H-IIA rocket blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center in the south of Japan. This launch comes just weeks after a Rosetta mission of European Space Agency made historic landing of Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
Key facts of this mission:
- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) sent the probe on a six-year mission. Hayabusa in Japanese means peregrine falcon.
- Project cost: 31-billion-yen ($260-million)
- Mission: This project aims to send the explorer towards the 1999JU3 asteroid in deep space. . It will also study the surface of comet by dropping tiny robots. It will blast a crater in the asteroid to collect materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation, in the hope of answering some fundamental questions about life and the universe
- Duration: It is expected to reach the asteroid in mid-2018 and spend around 18 months in the area. If all goes well, asteroid samples will be returned to Earth in late 2020.
Earlier, Japan’s Hayabusa 1 probe, had made history for round-trip flight to an asteroid- Itokawa from 2003 to 2010. The first Hayabusa mission had encountered several crippling problems, including a fuel leak, failures in its pointing system, and a glitch with the craft’s sample collection system. Despite the challenges, the spacecraft returned to Earth in 2010, carrying a fraction of the asteroid specimens intended.