Japan Steps into Space
Let us wish the Japanese well in their bid to explore space. The US has had great success with their missions. It seems odd why Japan would spend money on space exploration when the economy is in such bad shape. Nonetheless, all people in the world benefit from new knowledge,
After success with its first attempt to retrieve samples from the Itokowa space rock, the second spacecraft Hayabusa2 will be launched in 2014 and closely examine asteroid 1999 JU3. The rendezvous will take place in 2018. Valuable samples will be brought back to Earth in 2020.
Japan is doing the work with assistance from other nations. The probe will be tracked by NASA's Deep Space Network. Like the first project the spacecraft will land in Australia. Powered by ion engines the craft will make a small crater in 1999 JU3. In the past this asteroid may have come into contact with water.
A German made lander called MASCOT will move over the rock's surface. Intense examination will hopefully bring to light new understanding about asteroids. The search for life elsewhere in the cosmos is still paramount.