Emily Lakdawalla is a crafter after my own heart. When the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa was returning to earth last weekend, she took to her crochet hook to pass the time and ease the stress of the spacecraft’s reentry.
Covering the events of Hayabusa’s return involved a lot of watching and waiting. Rather than go blind staring at my computer and cause carpal tunnel syndrome by excessively clicking the refresh button, I decided to…go blind and develop carpal tunnel syndrome by doing some crocheting. Ahem. Maybe not the best choice of alternative activities, but it was an enjoyable way to channel my caffeinated energy.
The result was a fantastically geeky amigurumi, for which Emily has provided a pattern so you can whip one up yourself. Launched in May of 2003, Hayabusa explored an asteroid named “Itokawa,” and gathered samples to return to earth. From the JAXA web site:
Until now, the only extra-terrestrial celestial body from which we have gathered samples is the Moon… Asteroids are believed to be small enough to have preserved the state of the early solar system and are sometimes referred to as celestial fossils. A soil sample from an asteroid can give us clues about the raw materials that made up planets and asteroids in their formative years, and about the state of the inside of a solar nebula around the time of the birth of the planets. However small the sample amount may be, its scientific significance is tremendous.
You can read more about Hayabusa’s mission and updates on the recovery of its payload on the JAXA web site. Thanks, Laura!