Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"HAYABUSA: Back to the Earth"

Not only those who have been anticipated the return of space probe Hayabusa (meaning "falcon" for Japanese) but also those who hadn't known it at all till the other day would have been excited and overjoyed by the spectacular return of Hayabusa on June 13th, 2010, three years behind schedule. I was moved to see Hayabusa burning apart, streaking in the night sky like fireballs, on it's re-entering to the Earth after 7 years adventure to and from an asteroid Itokawa.
(See the moment of re-entry to the Earch.)

So, I went to Osaka Science Museum (located at Higobash, Osaka) to see a dome-movie made of computer graphics, HAYABUSA: Back to the Earth, at the planetarium. (Trailer) Actually going and seeing it had been a matter of time because my husband is very intereted in Hayabusa project. Some interested people would buy DVDs or Blue-ray Discs, but I wanted to see it at the planetarium. You would know why, if you have been to and know what it's like to have a view of 360 degrees sitting on a reclining seat at a planetarium. The movie is a brief record of Hayabusa's mission from May, 2003 to April, 2009.

"A lot of space probes were launched to the universe, but Hayabusa is the only one which is coming back to the Earth completing its mission." ....... "Only Japanese team has chosen 'ion engine' to move the space explorer." ........ While listening to the narration (the narrator called Hayabusa as "he" or "you") as I saw the film, something warm filled my heart and tears came into my eyes. Why? Because I saw heroic character in Hayabusa. Hayabusa is a robot which can think on its own (within the extent of programming), while it is operated by remote control from the Earth when possible. Since the launching, Hayabusa suffered lots of machine troubles and malfunctions one after another. Nevertheless, Hayabusa as well as the human team worked hard to overcome the troubles one by one with never-give-up spirits.

The planetarium was filled to the capacity (300 seats) today. I heard it had been rather sparse till the other day. Planetarium Hall schedule

These are videos (You Tube) explaining scientific details about HAYABUSA mission.
The Hayabusa Mission Asteroid Adventuer
The Great Challenges of HAYABUSA by JAXA


  1. Thank you for posting the youtube. How beautiful the color Hayabusa plunges into the earth. We can see he defends the capsule. He burned out but we could see the trace of the capsule. I hope there is dust of Itokawa in the capsule.And how marvelous Japanese's technique is! In the recession now, this technique may be tie in the development of Japan.

  2. Thank you for your introducing “youtube, Hayabusa”.Although I had never remembered about Hayabusa while in its long journey, I was very touched with the news on “Hayabusa back to the Earth”. Hayabusa completed its great mission in spite of the unexpected many troubles with the rocket. Not only its return with sand from an asteroid Itokawa to the Earth is one step to know about the origin of the Earth but also the success may boost hope human flight to another planet in the distant future. I also admire the endeavor of the Japanese team and the other people involved in the launch. I enjoy to imagine about what Hayabusa saw in the pitch dark space, (though that must be beyond my pictures).

  3. In my Reading Group, we are now reading a science fiction story about space travel. The story touches on several important moral issues related to science and human progress. It should be interesting to consider the story above of Japanese technological achievement in the light of those issues.
    In FAME, we also recently debated the topic "Robots will save the world". The motion was defeated. In the Japanese media, I hear only positive comments, yet surely people have private doubts. Even after "I, Robot", I still hear no doubting public voices. This makes me somewhat uneasy.

  4. Thank you sarari, and redrose, for the comments. I think I reacted much more emotionally than intellectually because the struggling of Hayabusa (and human team) was overlapped with a serious hardworking man's life; sailing into society with high expectations, troubles, misfortunes, success from time to time, new challenges, completion of mission till the very end, and burned out.

  5. Marc, I look forward to the session on the book and "important moral issues related to science and human progress".

    Robots could be useful and helpful in some fields, but we must keep it in mind that what was created by people to save/help people could become threatening to people.

  6. Hello, Yoko! The trailer is so touching! And how Hayabusa came back to Earth like a hero in shining armor... Wonderful moments.

    I'm very exciting about New Horizons mission. It's flying to Pluto, so far away. I can't imagine how much it can see there where no one ever roamed before...


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