Last night, many Japanese astronomy fans gathered a remote desert, Woomera in Australian Outback.
Or at least watched internet news programs from the desert.
Because, a space probe Hayabusa, Peregrine Falcon returned to earth from 7 years trip.
The purpose of Hayabusa's trip was landing on Itokawa, an asteroid 300 million kilometers from earth,
and bring back some material samples from its surface to earth.
Unfortunately, the trip was full of accidents.
Its all engines went heywire. Its mini-probe missed its target.
Its sample gatherer itself never worked fully.
And most of its fuel were run-out in the midst of space!
But because of triple or quadruple fool-proof gimmicks
and continued instructions from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency,
Peregrine Falcon finally returned its home nest.
Japanese culture has strong tendency of technophile, and personification of tools and machines is quite usual.
So, many of astronomy and/or general science fans loved it and cheered for its successful return.
The probe's mission was finished when it jettisoned a capsule,
which may contains some samples from the asteroid.
After that the falcon burned itself out in the atmosphere.
If there is a fragment of dust in the capsule, it will surely gives significant data to space scientists,
as it is not burned in the atmosphere like other common meteorites or Hayabusa itself.
But due to its gatherer's malfunction, the existence of sample is very doubtful...
Though Hayabusa will be the shining predecessor of next-generation space probes,
and we would never forget about its brave return.