Hayabusa Unmanned Spaceflight

Hayabusa on Itokawa

HayabusaA second attempt is made by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to bring its unmanned space probe, Hayabusa, close enough to gather a sample of surface material from asteroid 25143 Itokawa. It attempts to deploy a mini-rover called Minerva to explore Itokawa from the surface, but a glitch results in a trajectory that leaves Minerva tumbling into space, never to reach Itokawa. Hayabusa lands on Itokawa’s surface itself, though mission controllers don’t realize this for several more days. Contact is lost with Hayabusa for a short while, and when it is regained, the vehicle has left the surface and gone into safe mode.