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Published on Jun 13, 2010
A group of astronomers from NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and other organizations had a front row seat to observe the Hayabusa spacecraft's fiery plunge into Earth's atmosphere. The team flew aboard NASA's DC-8 airborne laboratory, packed with cameras and other imaging instruments, to capture the high-speed re-entry over an unpopulated area of central Australia on June 13, 2010. The Japanese spacecraft completed its seven-year, 1.25 billion mile journey to return a sample of the asteroid Itokawa.