The Hong Kong Space Museum's latest sky show, "Hayabusa: Back to the Earth", screening from January 1 until June 30, will take audiences on an unforgettable space journey with the asteroid explorer Hayabusa to the asteroid Itokawa, which is 200 million kilometres away from Earth.
Getting to know the formation of the solar system has been a major mission of scientists. It is believed that many planets in the solar system like Earth, Mars and Venus conceal essential clues for unlocking the mysteries of the formation of the system. Due to long-term decay and weathering in the atmosphere and countless crust deformations, it is difficult today to find rocks on these planets that still contain features that existed at the early stages of their formation. However, some asteroids orbiting the Sun without transformation caused by atmosphere and crust movement have remained virtually unchanged since their creation in respect of terrain features and geological composition. As a result, such asteroids can be regarded as "time capsules", providing valuable information about the solar system's formation. By collecting and studying rock samples from these asteroids, scientists believe that we may gain a better understanding of the mysteries behind the birth of the solar system.
On May 9, 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency successfully launched an M-V vehicle at the Kagoshima Space Centre to send the probe Hayabusa to explore the asteroid Itokawa. Its mission was to collect rock samples and bring them back.
After a space journey of more than two years, Hayabusa arrived at Itokawa in September 2005 and conducted three descent operations. During its first two touchdowns on the asteroid, its body suffered significant damage in crash landings. In the last attempt it successfully landed and collected rock samples. Unfortunately, control of some parts of the probe was lost: two of the three gyroscopes broke down and more than one-third of the lithium-ion batteries malfunctioned. Even worse, there was gas leakage at a thruster, leading to incorrect aiming of antennas and consequential loss of communication with the control centre on Earth.
At this point, could Hayabusa return to Earth safely? Could Hayabusa successfully carry the samples back to help provide insight into the mystery of the creation of the solar system? The answers can be found in "Hayabusa: Back to the Earth", which will take the audience along on Hayabusa's mission. During the journey, they will share the excitement of exploring the universe, experience the joy of arrival at the destination, and witness the setbacks on its way toward tracing the history of the universe.
The 43-minute sky show "Hayabusa: Back to the Earth" will be screened daily at 2.40pm and 6.10pm at the museum's Stanley Ho Space Theatre. There will be an additional screening at 11.10am on Sundays and public holidays. On Chinese New Year's Eve, it will be closed at 5pm. It will be closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year.
Tickets are available at the Hong Kong Space Museum Box Office and at all URBTIX outlets for $24 (front stalls) and $32 (stalls). Full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above and people with disabilities will receive a half-price concession.
The Hong Kong Space Museum is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. For further information, call 2721 0226 or visit the website at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Space/Programs/SkyShow/Hayabusa/e_Hayabusa.htm.
Ends/Friday, December 30, 2011