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Hayabusa reached the farthest deep space

Hayabusa stays at 2.5AU from Earth beyond Sun at the end of May 2008. When we see Hayabusa from Earth, it can be seen at the position of 12 degree apart from Sun. On the other hand Hayabusa should glance at Earth of 8 degree from Sun.

          <-1AU->       <-- 1.5AU-->

Due to such a long distance between Earth and Hayabusa the communication time lag reaches about 40 minutes. Hayabusa has kept its attitude in the spin stabilization without thrust by the ion engines since last October.
So, the Earth tracking center had caught intermittently the signal form Hayabusa on the particular occasion for the onboard antenna to point toward Earth in accordance with the spinning of 10-minute cycle. The small glancing angle between Sun and Earth from Hayabusa enables simultaneously both Earth pointing of the onboard antenna and Sun pointing of the solar array. As a result the continuous communication is established and will be kept by next March.

Hayabusa spacecraft in deep space restores its energy with low activity for Earth return. On the other hand the Hayabusa operation team on the ground has just started to prepare for the capsule retrieval.

Hayabusa Operation Team

June 2, 2008