December 7, 2020

Japan Shows its Presence in Planetary Exploration

Hayabusa 2 Asteroid Probe achieved seven world firsts before returning its capsule safely to Earth.

Those world firsts were (1) creation of an artificial crater, (2) mobile probe of a small celestial body (such as an asteroid) by a compact robot, (3) launch of multiple probe robots to a small celestial body, (4) landing at two points on the same small celestial body, (5) successful landing at a point which requires extremely high precision, within 60cm of error, (6) internal investigation of an extraterrestrial celestial body, and (7) smallest artificial satellite to orbit multiple small celestial bodies.

Between 200 and 300 companies participated in the development and manufacture of Hayabusa 2, and most of them were Japanese. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) operated mission control, and NEC was in charge of overall system design and development.

Some types of asteroid have abundant metals, while others include large amounts of water. They are seen as space resources for future use. The asteroid exploration technologies and expertise demonstrated by Hayabusa 2 will be the foundation for developing that kind of space business.