Successor of Hayabusa explorer at conceptual stage: scientist

13:47, July 08, 2010      

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The successful re-entry of Japanese space probe Hayabusa causes a bright streak in the night sky, near the Woomera rocket range in the Australian outback June 13, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

The successor of the Hayabusa explorer was still at a conceptual stage, a professor of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has said.

Junichiro Kawaguchi, project manager of the Hayabusa program, told Xinhua on Wednesday that the next stage of the project would still be carried out by Japan alone, but the research would be open.

The analysis of the samples returned was the first step to the next generation of exploration, he added.

The professor said the particles collected from the Hayabusa spacecraft's sample were small, but bigger enough for analysis. He said the collection of particles should be cataloged and then researchers would try to identify which materials were candidates of earth origin and which came from the asteroid it probed.

It would take another several months, he said.

Hayabusa was launched in 2003. It reached an asteroid named Itokawa in 2005 and made two touchdowns on it in November the same year. The spacecraft experienced a fuel leak and loss of contact with Earth for seven weeks before returning to earth earlier in June.

Source:Xinhua

(Editor:梁军)

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