Monday, June 14, 2010

Hayabusa returns

When we entered the airplane for actual the observation mission we still had to resolve the problems we encountered the night before. Removing a broken hard disk solved our problems, all 4 cameras were recording! Earlier that day we did the final calculations and fixed the parameters to be used at observation time. An hour before re-entry we were ready to record it at maximum capacity.

Calibration images were taken, the window was checked for icing, and then we could do nothing else than wait. Entering the observation track In Coma Bernices, the star field to aim for, was easily found. The second round went fine too. Waiting for the final round felt like taking an eternity. We were able to pick up Hayabusa quite early on its track. The was predicted accurately by computational models. Tracking went perfect and we could follow Hayabusa's path for a long time. The brightness of the capsule was a bit higher then calculated. Something we  were prepared for with our high framerate cameras. All cameras acquired data, but after only half a second the camera with the big lens stopped recording. It had not given us any problems during preparations, unlike the other cameras. The other three cameras did give us very nice data. Today we will do the final calibrations for that.

We are very pleased with the successfull observation of the spectacular return of Hayabusa to earth!