Hayabusa-2 Landed On Asteroid​ Ryugu ​To Collect Rock Samples

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Japan’s Hayabusa-2 rover has successfully made a smooth landing on the asteroid Ryugu’s surface. The prove landed at 21:06 ET, on Wednesday, July the 10th. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the probe back in December 2014, with the mission to explore and collect samples from Ryugu, an asteroid that orbits the Sun.

Hayabusa-2 collects Asteroid Ryugu rock samples

Hayabusa-2 blasted the asteroid with explosives and a copper plate in April to slacken some rocks, then successfully landed back on Ryugu to collect the rocks and soil debris. Asteroids are constructed of rock and metal, and most of them are found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. However, Ryugu’s orbit is sometimes taking it between Mars and Earth.

Asteroid ​Ryugu is a C-type asteroid, meaning that it has an abundance of organic carbon molecules, water and probably amino acids. Hayabusa-2 aims to be the first expedition to bring to Earth samples taken from an asteroid. The probe’s landing on Wednesday made a splash in the material already blown up and scattered around.

NASA has a similar project

After it landed, Hayabusa-2 collected a set of samples and left the asteroid’s surface. The probe will begin its 5.5 million miles journey to Earth at the end of 2019. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission was sent to a much smaller C-type asteroid, Bennu, on August 2018. The probe, however, did not land on the asteroid’s surface, but it has been orbiting it at a relatively close distance.

The aim is for OSIRIS-REx to get closer to Bennu’s surface in July 2010, but the probe will only approach it for approximately five seconds. During the five seconds, the probe will release nitrogen gas to disturb the dust and pebbles and collect samples.

If it all goes well, OSIRIS-REx will return with the samples to Earth in 2023.​ Both Bennu and Ryugu could help researchers understand more about the history of the solar system and probably about the origins of life on Earth.


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