Fireworks

In honor of Canada Day (and for my neighbours to the south, the fourth of July) here's a video:
While this might look like a meteor, and in fact it is asteroidal material falling to Earth, it's actually some extremely expensive fireworks. It's the Hayabusa spacecraft returning to Earth after visiting asteroid 25143 Itokawa, and the material it brought back was safely encapsulated.

A closer-up view, taken from the same DC-8 in the air over Woomera:

I know it's not current news, but this is pretty awesome, when you think about it: the list of successful sample-return missions to extraterrestrial bodies is pretty much (some of) the Apollo missions, Stardust, and this. Granted, asteroidal material falls to the Earth all the time (you can buy some!) but this is a pristine sample from a known asteroid. Plus it's brought back by a robot that used its four ion engines to navigate there and back, then blew up in a shower of flame that nevertheless preserved the vital sample container. And now there's Science!

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