Procyon’s asteroid flyby called off due to ion engine failure

by | May 13, 2015 | exploration, JAXA, Satellites, Science | 0 comments

The attempt of the Japanese small satellite Procyon to visit an asteroid has been called off.  Following the failure of the ion engine in March 2015, the planned orbital correction for an Earth slingshot gravity assist to send the craft towards asteroid 2000 DP 107 did not take place in April. The aim was for it to have a flyby in May 2016.

The failure was apparently due to metallic dust adhering to the inside of the engine, causing a short circuit.  The 59kg spacecraft was launched with the ten-times-larger Hayabusa 2 spacecraft in December 2014.  That spacecraft is still on track to visit asteroid 1999 JU3 in 2018 for a full orbital rendezvous and “touch down” dust sampling before returning to Earth.

 

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