Bangalore: Samples taken from the asteroid Ryugu, some 300 million kilometers away, by the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 arrived safely near Woomer in Australia in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Surface dust and sub-surface material were collected that was agitated when the spacecraft fired two impactors into the asteroid.
– HAYABUSA2 @ JAXA (@ haya2e_jaxa) December 5, 2020
The probe collected samples in the first half of 2019. Hayabusa2 stored them in a separate, sealed container that was detached from the ship about 220,000 km from Earth, and then landed in the Australian outback using parachutes.
The Royal Australian Air Force tracked the lighthouse with a capacity of 16 kg in the early morning hours on Sunday. The container was transported to a nearby facility for quick analysis before being shipped to Japan.
– Australian Space Agency (@AusSpaceAgency) December 6, 2020
Hayabusa2 departed the 1km Ryugu to return to Earth in November 2019. The mission follows in the footsteps of the first Hayabusa mission to return samples from the Itokawa asteroid in 2010.
The Ryugu samples will be split between JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), the US space agency NASA and other international research institutes.
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Asteroids provide information about the solar system
The Hayabusa-2, which was launched in 2014, still retains about 30 kg of xenon fuel out of the original 66 kg. The probe is now on an extended mission with two new asteroid targets, a flyby of (98,943) 2001 CC21 in July 2026 and a 1998 KY26 meeting in July 2031.
2001 CC21, a rare L-type asteroid, will be photographed in detail during a high-speed flyby. 1998 KY26, however, will be the first target to be a rapidly rotating micro-asteroid.
The asteroid materials are considered very valuable for research because these tiny bodies were leftovers from the early formation of our solar system. Since then, they have remained pristine and unchanged because asteroids and other smaller bodies have not undergone the same metamorphic changes as planets.
Analyzing the composition of these asteroids and other smaller bodies gives insight into the formation, evolution and likely future of our solar system.
Asteroid samples are important candidates for studying both the origin of water and life on Earth. It has long been believed that comets deposited the first drops of water on Earth, but recent discoveries have shown that asteroids carried water to the early Earth.
Also read: Chang’e-5 lands final feat in great Chinese plans to the moon targeting a lunar-based human mission
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