Hayabusa

po_HayabusaHayabusa (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 May 9, 2003 and rendezvoused with Itokawa in mid-September 2005. After arriving at Itokawa, Hayabusa studied the asteroid’s shape, spin, topography, color, 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 June 13, 2010.