Japan’s asteroid return mission lands in Australian desert

After six years in space, a Japanese spacecraft landed in the desert of South Australia, bringing a small reservoir of asteroid rocks to the Earth’s surface. For the second time in history an asteroid object has returned to our planet. Eventually, scientists will open the spacecraft and find the precious rocks inside to learn more about the meteorites that penetrate our solar system.

The landing is the culmination of Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission, which aims to bring asteroid models back to Earth. After being launched from Japan in 2014, the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft took four years to travel to the asteroid Ryu. The vehicle hung around the asteroid for a year and a half, mapping the surface of the rock and capturing samples of objects before reaching Earth.

Scientists are eager to see the rocks that Hayabusa 2 returned to, because beautiful specimens from an asteroid can tell a lot more about what our solar system was like when the planets first formed. Because asteroids are like baby pictures of our universe. These space rocks have been around since the beginning of the solar system, and scientists believe that asteroids have not really changed in the last 4.6 billion years. These materials contain many substances that were present in the birth of the solar system, so studying these rocks in laboratories on Earth may provide an important context for the early days of the planets.


Jaxa Mission Controllers Celebrate Successful Capsule Separation of Hayapusa 2
Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP via Getty Images

The capsule will be transported to Japan, where the mission will learn how much asteroid material is collected. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which oversees the voyage, hoped to bring back 100 milligrams of material from Ryuku, but scientists have no way of measuring how much of the Hayabusa 2 sample was collected while in space. That exact amount will be revealed when the spacecraft opens in Japan.

Hayabusa 2 used some creative techniques to collect its samples in Riku. The spacecraft, with its small horn-shaped arm, first hit the asteroid with this companion in February 2019. When the hand came in contact it fired a bullet-like projectile and pierced the asteroid, releasing a whole mess of dust and pebbles as it circled into the horn.

The spacecraft in Ryukyu did not just make a sample grab. Hayabusa 2 tried the maneuver again in July 2019, but the spacecraft had originally done a little excavation. Before The asteroid strikes a second time, The spacecraft dropped explosives on Ryu, exploded a crater on the asteroid and exposed some rocks located below the surface. Hayabusa 2 then tapped the surface inside this abyss to clear some newly emerging material. The goal was to collect more beautiful rocks from Ryu. The material beneath the asteroid’s surface, like rocks on the outside, has not been exposed to the harsh environment of space for billions of years, and may have experienced some changes and reactions over time. So the material coming from the abyss can provide an even better snapshot of the objects that existed when the solar system first formed.

Art rendering of the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft
Image: D.L.R.

The spacecraft left the asteroid in November 2019, when the Hayabusa 2 crew realized that they had captured enough from Riyakh. After traveling to Earth last year, the spacecraft sent a small capsule Friday night, with Ryuquin’s models located inside. The capsule then set in a course for Earth, sinking into our planet’s atmosphere this morning. It then stopped a parachute, slowing the vehicle to about 12 kilometers per second or nearly 27,000 miles per hour so that it could slowly land in the Woomera restricted area in South Australia.

The teams went to the ground from Jaxa after it hit A comprehensive search in Australia to find the capsule. The vehicle came down on an area of ​​100 square kilometers or 38 square miles. It landed overnight in Australia, making it even harder to find the capsule. Fortunately, the capsule was fitted with a radio beacon Helped the teams find out The spacecraft touched down. Prior to landing, the Jaxa teams set up five antennas around the expected landing site to help detect the signal, and the agency had a helicopter with its own beacon receiver. He also had a drone on hand to fly over the area to take photos.

Hayabusa 2 is Japan’s second mission to recover samples of an asteroid. Its first mission, Hayabusa, sent asteroid models back to Earth in 2010, although this mission was only able to collect asteroids. Hayapusa 2 would have collected more than the original Hayabusa offerings. By 2023, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is expected to yield the largest object ever collected from an asteroid.

Although the Hayabusa 2 has completed its primary mission, the spacecraft is not yet complete. The main spacecraft is still in space Start a search to visit another asteroid 1998 is called KY26. It takes 11 years to analyze the space rock and learn more about the asteroids that are enlarging around us in space, reaching its new goal.

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