On Nov. 26, spacecraft "Hayabusa" challenged the second trial to execute landing on
and sampling from the asteroid "Itokawa". "Hayabusa" team confirmed the whole
process to have been implemented, and is sure that the team succeeded in sampling
materials on the surface of an asteroid for the first time in world history. Detailed data
to be sent from "Hayabusa" will further verify the sampling.
"Hayabusa" started its last descent phase from the altitude of 1 km above Itokawa by
command from earth around 10:00 p.m. Nov.25 (JST). It was followed by starting the
vertical descent from around 6:00 a.m. Nov.26., and, around 6:25 a.m., Sagamihara Deep
Space Control Room sent a command to continue the descent. "Hayabusa"
challenged landing and sampling operation after a hovering phase. "Hayabusa" team is
now sure, through the analysis of telemetry data, that a series of sequence for sampling
was successfully done. "Hayabusa" then flew up to several kilometers altitude with
normal solar paddles power, spacecraft attitude, etc.
The spacecraft shifted to safe-hold mode because of its attitude dispersion during
ascent, and Sagamihara Deep Space Control Room is now carrying out the recovery
operation to three-axis control mode. It therefore takes a few more days to obtain
detailed data relating the procedure. Instruments onboard are functioning very well.
Spacecraft "Hayabusa" could find, on the surface of Itokawa, the Target Marker dropped
Nov.20 among the images taken during descent phase on Nov. 26. On the Target Marker
are etched 880,000 names from 149 countries.
Left hand side image shows the area named "MUSES Sea" taken at 4:58 Nov.20, and
right hand side image was taken at 6:24 Nov.26. A white light spot inside a red circle is
the Target Marker with 880,000 names of the people.