Japan Launching Ambitious Asteroid-Sampling Mission in 2014
by Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider ColumnistDate: 28 December 2012 Time: 02:18 PM ET
Coutesy of SPACE.com
Artist's concept of Japan’s proposed Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, which would reconnoiter asteroid 1999 JU3 in mid-2018. Hayabusa 2 would hurl an impactor into the asteroid, sample the resulting crater and send pieces back to Earth for study. CREDIT: JAXA/Akihiro Ikeshita
Japan's space agency is readying a new asteroid probe for launch, an ambitious mission that aims to build on the victory of the country's first round-trip asteroid mission that sent the Hayabusa spacecraft to retrieve samples of the space rock Itokowa.
The new Japanese asteroid mission, called Hayabusa2, is scheduled for launch in 2014 and aimed at the asteroid 1999 JU3, a large space rock about 3,018 feet (920 meters) in length. It is due to arrive at the asteroid in mid-2018, loiter at the space rock and carry out a slew of challenging firsts before departing the scene at the end of 2019.
If all goes well, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft will return to Earth with samples of asteroid 1999 JU3 at the end of 2020. The probe's name is Japanese for "Falcon2."