SUMMARY: The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) MUSES-C spacecraft snapped pictures of the Earth and Moon as it made a flyby past our planet. The maneuver is called a gravity assist, which uses the Earth's gravity to give the spacecraft a boost in speed. The ion engine powered spacecraft skimmed past our planet at an altitude of only 3700 km before continuing on towards its final target: Asteroid Itokawa (1998SF36). It will reach the asteroid in summer 2005, and then spend 5 months orbiting and collecting samples from its surface. It will then leave the asteroid and return the samples to Earth in 2007.

View full article
What do you think about this story? post your comments below.