System design of successive ‘Hayabusa’ asteroid explorer begins: NEC

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‘Hayabusa’ is a robotic spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) aiming to deliver a specimen from an asteroid namely, 25143 Itokawa, to Earth for further research. Now NEC has begun a new system design of an asteroid explorer for JAXA’s ‘Hayabusa 2 Project’.

The company is responsible for the system formulation along with the subsystem designs inclusive of the Ka-band communication subsystem and intermediate-infrared camera. Both of these have to be incorporated in the asteroid explorer as per JAXA guidelines. While the former is a communication subsystem with apparently high-capacity transmission, the latter is an imaging camera for noting down the temperature and surface conditions on the asteroid.

This successive version of the aforesaid spacecraft is expected to be launched in 2014 by JAXA. According to the schedule, the new asteroid explorer will reach the asteroid ‘1999 JU3’ in the mid period of 2018 and then head back to Earth by the conclusion of 2020.

The explorer’s principal objective is to assemble and return specimens from asteroid ‘1999 JU3’ to the Earth. These samples may unravel the mysteries of the evolution and beginning of the solar system. They may also aid in analyzing the raw materials of living creatures by means of hydrated minerals and organic matter.

Starting from the launch of the ‘OHSUMI’ satellite in 1970, the company has produced and developed over 60 satellites and explorers. NEC will continue to spearhead scientific revelations via this new asteroid explorer. This is also likely to have an effect on the experience of round-trip operations undertaken by the original ‘Hayabusa,’ while returning samples from a small near-Earth asteroid, Itokawa.

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