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November 16, 2020 - Robotic Rock Hound

Robotic Rock Hound   In 2003, Japan launched a spacecraft that would attempt something never before done: return a sample of an asteroid to Earth. Named Hayabusa (Japanese for “peregrine falcon”) it arrived at comet Itokowa in 2005 to study the shape, spin, topography, color, composition, density, and history of the asteroid. On November 19, 2005—15 years ago this week—Hayabusa touched down on Itokowa, captured a small amount of material, and lifted off. It repeated this once more before it returned to Earth with an encouraging amount (1,500 grains) of rocky asteroid particles. Following in the footsteps of Hayabusa, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began orbiting asteroid Bennu (seen here from a distance of just 640 meters, or 0.4 miles) in late 2018, and will return a sample to Earth in 2023.

Image credit: NASA, ESA and A. Nota (ESA/STScI, STScI/AURA)

Weekly Calendar

November 16 - 22, 2020

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 16

1962: Saturn SA-3 launched
1973: Skylab 4 crew launched on 84-day mission
1974: Interstellar message broadcast from Arecibo radio telescope
2009: STS-129 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Tuesday 17

Leonid meteor shower

1970: Luna 17 lands on Moon; Lunokhod 1 rover becomes first wheeled vehicle on Moon
2016: Soyuz MS-03 launched carrying ISS Expedition 50/51 crew

Moon phase Wednesday 18

Leonid meteor shower

1923: Alan Shepard born
1989: Cosmic Background Explorer launched
2013: MAVEN spacecraft launched to Mars

Moon phase Thursday 19

Jupiter 2° north of Moon
Saturn 3° north of Moon

1969: Apollo 12 makes second lunar landing
1996: STS-80 Columbia launched
1997: STS-87 Columbia launched
2005: Hayabusa spacecraft makes first liftoff from an asteroid

Moon phase Friday 20

1889: Edwin Hubble born
1998: Zarya module launched, first element of International Space Station
2002: First Delta IV launched
2004: Swift spacecraft launched

Moon phase Saturday 21

First Qtr Moon 11:45 PM ET

Moon phase Sunday 22

1989: STS-33 Discovery launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.