2007 Volume 75 Issue 12 Pages 950-957
The Japanese spacecraft, HAYABUSA, was launched on May 9, 2003 and spent more than 2.5 years approaching the asteroid ITOKAWA. This spacecraft used 13.2 Ah lithium-ion secondary cells. After HAYABUSA touched down on ITOKAWA in December 2005, it could not communicate for seven weeks due to a malfunction of the attitude control. During this period, four of 11 lithium-ion secondary cells were over-discharged, and solar power was unavailable due to the spacecraft’s tumbling motion. However, the battery power was still indispensable for sealing the container with the asteroid sample. The seven remaining healthy cells were slowly recharged using minimum current. During this time, ground simulation tests using similarly-built and intentionally short-circuited cells were carried out to evaluate the battery’s operational safety. After its safety was confirmed, the lithium-ion secondary battery was used to transfer, latch, and successfully seal the sample container into the reentry capsule. The necessary power for these actions was supplied by the battery.