I’ve been working fast and furious on these posters as my deadline nears — especially since it turns out my deadline is somewhat earlier than I thought! This is #12 of my Digital Media Studies Master’s Project. Hayabusa was a JAXA sample return mission launched in 2003 to rendezvous with a small near-Earth asteroid named Itokawa.
Fun facts: This mission suffered a LOT of glitches and malfunctions. Hayabusa wasn’t technically designed to land — instead, it was supposed to use a sample-capturing device to just touch the surface — but it ended up touching down for almost 30 minutes in “safe descent” mode, which didn’t allow activation of the sampling mechanism. The mini-lander it carried was supposed to “hop” across the surface of the asteroid, but the main probe released it at incorrect altitude and speed and it wasn’t captured by the asteroid. (Asteroids have very low gravitational fields. I read once that a baseball player could hit a home run into orbit around many of them.) The spacecraft suffered propellant leaks, it lost power, its ion engines operated at reduced efficiency after a solar flare reduced the amount of power the solar cells could generate.
Basically, Hayabusa limped along for YEARS — and yet somehow JAXA managed to get it back to Earth in 2010 and confirmed their hope/suspicion that the sampling unit did capture something, even if it didn’t operate as originally designed. The return capsule contained ~1500 small particles later confirmed to be from Itokawa! Impressive work by JAXA, in my book, and there are probably many lessons to be learned about how to work around anomalies and failures.
I’m not totally in love with this poster, but that’s ok. My favorite part is the text itself, which turned out exactly as I had envisioned it and made me happy.