Hayabusa-2 Delivered Asteroid Sample To Earth Safely

Hayabusa-2 operated by the Japanese Space Agency JAXA returned with the sample from the asteroid Ryugu after the six years of space service. When the capsule entered the earth’s atmosphere it was an amazing moment for JAXA. The probe landed safely with a 100 milligram-sample from the asteroid Ryugu. The probe spent almost a year inspecting Ryugu before coming back to the earth.

The capsule is packed protectively in a box for a safe transfer / Image source – bbc

On Saturday evening (GMT) Hayabusa-2 capsule landed near Woomera in South Australia which came from 186 million miles (300 million kilometers) away from the earth.

Dr. Yuichi Tsuda, The project manager of the mission said “Hayabusa-2 is home. We collected the treasure box,  he said, adding: The capsule collection was perfectly doneand no damage was found in the container.”

The sample was about 16kg which is the highest amount of sample ever gathered from any asteroid. Dr. Hitoshi Kuninaka said “We started the development of Hayabusa-2 in 2011. I think the dream has come true. Addressing journalists, he acknowledged past missions that had experienced technical problems but said: Regarding Hayabusa-2, we did everything according to the schedule – 100% and we succeeded in sample return as planned. As a result, we can move on to the next stage in space development.”

The capsule was traveling at a speed of about 11km/sec and deployed parachute to slow down its descent. After the landing, the capsule began signaling so that the recovery team could find the exact landing spot. It touched the Woomera range which is managed by the Royal Australian Air Force.

The recovery team identified the exact position capsule on the ground at 18:07 GMT (04:37 local time). After that, a helicopter left to pick it up. Satoru Nakazawa, Hayabusa-2 sub-manager who was also engaged in the operation at woomera said “We went there with the helicopter and it was emitting the beacon signal. But at that time, it was still dark, so it was unclear where it was. I was very, very nervous.

We flew over the area where it landed many times and I thought maybe that was where it was. Then the Sun rose and we could visually confirm the existence of the capsule. We thought: ‘Wow, we found it! But we had a very jittery, frustrating time until sunrise.” The capsule was then taken for analysis. Jaxa also collected gas from the container for testing although it is not yet confirmed that the gas which is found in the container comes from the Ryugu sample.

The Hayabusa-2 did not enter the earth’s surface after releasing the capsule. It went off for another asteroid mission where it is estimated to reach by 2031.

The sample from the Ryugu will help us to know about the formation of our planet and the history of our solar system. Asteroids are considered as the leftover materials during the formation of our planets. It is estimated that the Ryugu rock is formed of super ancient rocks which will help us to even know how the water and various other materials essential for life were delievered to the early earth.

Source – jaxa, bbc

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