When last we left our intrepid explorer, she had returned her capsule to Earth, nevermore to be seen or heard.
The capsule, however, has been found during the night in the Australian Desert. It will be recovered in the afternoon.
It is 8:00 PM in Phoenix, and Noon in Tokyo. So according to the tweet, things should be heating up with the recovery effort. Sometime in the next six hours, we should get news on the actual recover. Then it will be off to the lab for the painstaking analysis. Did we get anything back from Itokawa?
And finding the heat shield components would be nice.
Lastly tonight, there are the offspring to be considered: Hayabusa-2
JAXA is now considering a mission named Hayabusa-2 This is a similar mission as Hayabusa that will return samples of surface from an asteroid to the earth. Target asteroid, however, is different. Asteroid Itokawa explored by Hayabusa is rock-rich S-type one. Asteroid that Hayabusa-2 will visit at is a C-type asteroid. C-type asteroids are also rocky, but it is thought that their rocks contain much more organic matters. Hayabusa-2 will challenge very interesting objectives: what are original organic matters existed in the solar system?; and how they are related to life?
A little after midnight Phoenix time this morning, JAXA reported it had recovered the Hayabusa re-entry capsule, and that several hours earlier had found both the front and back shells from the heat shield.