The launch of Japan’s asteroid-exploring mission Hayabusa-2 has finally taken place, after being delayed twice, owing to bad weather. The mission is Japan’s second shot at landing on and retrieving samples from a flying space rock.
Layers of icy clouds promising thunderstorms, and later, gusts of wind had pushed the launch first to December 1, then to two days later.
As the space agency JAXA explains, for the launch to take place there must be no clouds or unruly winds within 20 kilometers of the flight trajectory.
The mission will deliver Hayabusa-2 to the asteroid “1999 JU3” by mid-2018 using ion engines. The rock is thought to contain a higher concentration of organic matters and water, making it ideal for demystifying its origins, establishing a link with the farther reaches of our universe.
Research into 1999 JU3 has revealed that it is a sphere approximately 920 meters in diameter with an albedo on the surface of about 0.06. The asteroid’s rotation period is approximately 7.6 hours… see more