Hayabusa Spacecraft Makes Asteroid Landing

Japan's Hayabusa space probe landed successfully on an asteroid named Itokawa on Wednesday. The asteroid is named after Hideo Itokawa, father of rocket science in Japan; it orbits the sun between Earth and Mars. It is just 2,300 feet long and 1,000 feet wide.


(Hayabusa approaches asteroid Itokawa)

Japan's space agency had said earlier that Hayabusa had descended to 56 feet from the surface, at which point ground control lost contact with the probe for about three hours. After analyzing data, the agency said the probe landed on the asteroid within about 99 feet of the initial landing target.


(Shadow of Hayabusa on Itakowa asteroid)

Hayabusa was launched in May 2003; it has until early December to leave orbit and begin its journey home. It is expected to return to Earth and land in the Australian Outback in June 2007.

As far as I know, the first story about landing a craft on an asteroid was written by Edward Drax in 1931. In The Travel Tales of Mr. Joseph Jorkens, minor navigation problems result in a landing on Eros:

"I had not seen it as soon as I had seen Mars, on account of its being so near to the line of the Sun... I couldn't make out anything, as most of the orb was in darkness... I got into the darkness at last and switched on my engines, and flew till I came to the very first edge of twilight that gave light enough for me to land... And that was how I came to make a bad landing, with my wheels deep down in a marsh...

A more technical approach to landing on an asteroid was completed by Robert Heinlein. In his 1939 short story Misfit, young men without a trade were given another chance in the Cosmic Construction Corps. One job was to make a livable space habitat on selected asteroids.

He walked over by the lookouts at stereoscopes and radar tanks and peered up at the star-flecked blackness. Three cigarettes later the lookout nearest him called out.
"Light ho!"
"Where away?"
His mate read the exterior dials of the stereoscope. "Plus point two, abaft one point three, slight drift astern." He shifted to radar and added, "Range seven nine oh four three."
"Does that check?"
"Could be, Captain. What is her disk?" came the Navigator's muffled voice from under the hood.
The first lookout hurriedly twisted the knobs of his instrument, but the Captain nudged him aside. "I'll do this, son." He fitted his face to the double eye guards and surveyed a little silvery sphere, a tiny moon. Carefully he brought two illuminated cross-hairs up until they were exactly tangent to the upper and lower limbs of the disk. "Mark!"
The reading was noted and passed to the Navigator, who shortly ducked out from under the hood.
"That's our baby, Captain"
...McCoy forced them to lie down throughout the ensuing two hours. Short shocks of rocket blasts alternated with nauseating weightlessness. Then the blowers stopped and check valves clicked into their seats. The ship dropped free for a few moments -- a final quick blast -- five seconds of falling, and a short, light, grinding bump. A single bugle note came over the announcer, and the blowers took up their hum.

The NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft was launched on Feb. 17, 1996, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid in February 2000 and then the first to land on an asteroid in February 2001. The asteroid was 433 Eros. NEAR is short for Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous. Read more about the real-life landing at Space.com. See also this Proposal to move an asteroid.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/24/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...' - James Blish, 1957.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.

Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.

Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.