Japan's Hayabusa2 makes history by successfully collecting samples from distant asteroid Ryugu

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 12, 2019

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which successfully made its second touchdown on asteroid Ryugu on July 12, 2019, has become the first ever space probe to gather material from beneath the surface of an asteroid, the Nature reported.

The Japanese spacecraft landed in the crater on Thursday and collected pristine samples of the asteroid insides that scientists think unaffected by space radiation and other universal factors.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said it has confirmed data showing Hayabusa2 touched down and rose safely after collecting the samples as planned.

Hayabusa2 It is the second time Hayabusa2 has contacted down on the forsaken space rock Ryugu, somewhere in the range of 300 million kilometers (185 million miles) from Earth.

The shot at Ryugu's surface took place in April when the spacecraft deployed its free-flying Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) containing the copper "bullet" and a camera (DCAM3) as the probe itself navigated its way to safety away from the blast and resulting debris.

As the samples will come from within the asteroid, it will not be exposed to the harsh environment of space. "We love you, take care Hayabusa2", the musician told the team.

The complex multi-year mission has additionally included sending wanderers and robots down to the surface. It has now successfully collected the first subsurface samples from the asteroid to help in exploring the history of our solar system and the origin of life.

The asteriod mission first reached Ryugu - a kilometre-wide asteriod, with a relatively dark surface and nearly zero gravity - in June 2018 and made its first touchdown on the surface in February 2019.

The second touchdown requires special preparations because any problems could mean the probe loses the precious materials already gathered during its first landing.

That wasn't for fun, of course, but to bring up materials that may have been buried beneath the surface of asteroid that may have been buried for millennia.

The latest touchdown is the last major part of Hayabusa2's mission.

"It would be safe to say that extremely attractive materials are near the crater", Project Manager Yuichi Tsuda said.

The probe launched in December 2014 and arrived at the dice-shaped space rock on June 27, 2018. It is expected to return to Earth in winter 2020.

In September a year ago, a Japanese machine landed on an asteroid called Ryugu, thousands of miles away from Earth.

Hayabusa2 has travelled around 4 billion km around the Sun in an elliptical orbit since its launch in December 2014.

The samples will re-enter the atmosphere and parachute down to the ground, somewhere in the Australian outback.

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