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Japanese Space Capsule Landing In South Australia

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Japanese Space Capsule Landing In South Australia

A Japanese space capsule that scientists hope will be carrying the first ever sample from an asteroid is due to land at the Woomera Test Range in South Australia tonight (Sun 13 June) just before midnight local time.

A team of scientists from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and from NASA and the ANU are in Woomera to recover the capsule which they hope will provide important scientific clues about the composition of the asteroid, Itokawa. The samples will tell scientists about the early history of the solar system, the formation of planets, and could also help reduce the threat of asteroid collisions in the future.

The spacecraft was launched by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in May 2003 and landed on the asteroid in November 2005. If successful, it will be the first time that a spacecraft has landed on an asteroid and returned to Earth.

A resource page has been set up which will be constantly updated over the next 24 hours. Nigel Kerby from the AusSMC is in Woomera and will attempt to get footage of the expected light show tonight (no guarantees!). Scientists are suggesting that if there are clear skies in the area tonight (which is looking probable), people in the Glendambo and Coober Pedy area should see a light show lasting 10s of seconds (at around 11.20pm SA time) showing the spacecraft burning up and the capsule travelling through the atmosphere. The capsule will be travelling at just over 12km per second when it hits the Earth's atmosphere at around 200km in altitude. The capsule's parachute should deploy at 10km in altitude and the capsule is expected to hit the ground in the Woomera Prohibited Area travelling at 6.4 metres per second a few minutes before midnight.

 

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