Hayabusa

Hayabusa (はやぶさ?, literally "Peregrine Falcon") was an unmanned spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to return a sample of material from a small near-Earth asteroid named 25143 Itokawa to Earth for further analysis.

Hayabusa, formerly known as MUSES-C for Mu Space Engineering Spacecraft C, was launched on 9 May 2003 and rendezvoused with Itokawa in mid-September 2005. After arriving at Itokawa, Hayabusa studied the asteroid's shape, spin, topography, colour, composition, density, and history. In November 2005, it landed on the asteroid and collected samples in the form of tiny grains of asteroidal material, which were returned to Earth aboard the spacecraft on 13 June 2010.

The spacecraft also carried a detachable minilander, MINERVA, which failed to reach the surface.

Read more about Hayabusa:  Mission Firsts, Mission Profile, MINERVA Mini-lander, Scientific and Engineering Importance of The Mission, Changes in Mission Plan, Reentry and Capsule Retrieval, Confirmation of Asteroid Particles, Results, In Popular Culture

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