Update (14 June 2010): A post showing video of the re-entry can be found here on my site.
We are only a few hours away from the return sample capsule from the JAXA Hayabusa asteroid sample return mission landing in the Woomera Protected Area in outback South Australia. At this stage, the capsule is expected to separate from the Hayabusa spacecraft at 8.51 pm AEST and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere at 11.51pm AEST tonight. By around midnight tonight, the sample capsule will have hopefully landed safely by parachute, then be recovered and flown to Japan. Once there, it will be opened to see if there are any samples brought back from XX onboard.
A number of live webcasts will be occuring of this unusual event. I would suggest checking each of them to see when their start times are. They are as follows:
- NASA’s Hayabusa asteroid airborne observing campain
- JAXA http://hayabusa.jaxa.jp/live/index_e.html
- Media i Corporation http://www.media-i.com/Hayabusa/index_e.html
- NEC http://www.nec.co.jp/ad/hayabusa/live/ (Win+IE only)
A previous post on this website has information on where to look in the night sky if you happen to be lucky enough to be in the South Australian outback tonight. You will be able to see a very bright but short lived fireball created as the Hayabusa sample return capsule reenters the Earth’s atmosphere.
More information can be found on the Internet. For Japanese readers, the most likely best starting place for more information is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency website. For English speakers/readers, Spaceflightnow.com has a well written story on tonights event. Alternatively, there is a useful post on the Universe Today website.