Hayabusa-2 Delivers Intriguing Space Rocks to the Earth
One of the most recent and major Hayabusa news is that the Japanese space mission to extract asteroid rock was successfully completed. The spacecraft Hayabusa-2 was launched to the asteroid Ryugu in 2014. The journey to the asteroid took about four years, and in 2018 the lander arrived at its destination.
It took about one and a half years to observe and collect samples. After that, three capsules with materials collected on the surface of an asteroid, which is located at a distance of more than 290 million kilometers from Earth, were sent to our planet. The capsule reached us on December 5, landing in the desert in Australia. Scientists from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shipped the capsule to Japan.
Scientists hope that the study of the contents of the capsules will help better research the origin of living organisms on Earth and the clogging of the solar system. There is also hope that scientists will be able to explain the appearance of water on Earth. Mission personnel examined the contents of the first capsule on December 14 and confirmed the presence of extraterrestrial material in it.
When JAXA opened the first capsule, they found dead space meteorite particles that looked like pebbles and sand. Scientists are going to measure the mass of materials and study their structure and composition.
The Hayabusa class spaceship carried out two sample gathering operations on the Ryugu asteroid. At the first attempt, the ship captured stones and dust from the very surface of the space body. On the second attempt, a copper bullet was fired into the surface of the asteroid to provide an opportunity to reach the underground material.
After the penetration, a crater about 20 meters in size formed on the surface, and, thanks to a slight gravity, particles of the underground rocks of the asteroid Ryugu were collected. Studying underground rocks will enable scientists to understand how exactly space conditions affect the surface of an asteroid.
Scientists also have to study gas samples taken in space and understand if this gas comes from the asteroid Ryugu itself. These are the world’s first gas samples taken in deep space. After carrying out all the necessary research, space samples of materials will be transferred for additional study by NASA employees and other space agencies, starting in 2022.
As for other prospects, the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft is currently on an 11-year expedition to another asteroid. Scientists want to study possible means of protection against space bodies approaching the Earth.