A Japanese spacecraft has grabbed a dust sample of an asteroid zooming to more than 151 million km from the Earth. This is the second sample taken from the asteroid by this vehicle and the last that the probe will collect before returning to Earth this fall.
Hayabusa2 is the sample collection spacecraft operated by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Launched in 2014, the vehicle was flying around an asteroid named Ryugu since it arrived at the object in June 2018. Its main purpose is to recover small pieces of rocks and earth in Ryugu to bring them back to our planet, where scientists can study them. Hayabusa2 labs could have been easily done when he took his first sample in Februarybut the team behind the spacecraft decided to take another sample before returning home. And this sample is much more tempting than the first one.
This sample was seized right next to a crater that Hayabusa2 did on Ryugu. That's right: the spaceship blew his own little hole in the asteroid in april. During this event, Hayabusa2 deployed on the surface of Ryugu what was a tiny bomb. created a small impression in the rock. On Wednesday evening, the spacecraft took a sample of rocks about twenty meters from the place where this artificial crater is located.
To catch his sample, Hayabusa2 is equipped with a bullet-shaped projectile attached to a horn-shaped appendage. When the spacecraft gets closer to the surface of the asteroid, it hits the end of the horn on the ground and the bullet fires. All this raises a cloud of dust that is supposed to lodge in the horn, then in a collection chamber in the belly of Hayabusa2.
Scientists are pretty sure that this sample contains material that was thrown inside when the bomb exploded. This means that some of the dust contained in the last sample could have been buried under the surface of the asteroid for billions of years since the beginnings of the solar system. These materials are valuable to researchers as these rocks have not been exposed to the rigorous spatial environment nor to any spatial alteration. These relatively early conditions mean that the last sample of Hayabusa2 can provide a good snapshot of some of the materials that already existed when our cosmic quarter was formed.
This is a big problem for planetary scientists because many experts believe that some of the building blocks of life on Earth come from asteroids that bomb our planet. The Hayabusa2 samples could contain important clues about what asteroids might have transported to Earth while it was still a newborn world.
Hayabusa2 probably contains samples of two samples in his collection chamber, although they do not know for sure until the spaceship comes back. Since there is no way to measure what is inside the room while it is in the space, it is possible that there is There is nothing in there at the moment. However, Japanese researchers are confident that Hayabusa2 has obtained information on both samples. Whatever it is, it will be small, however. The JAXA hopes to get about 100 milligrams of Ryugu's sample.
Now, the time of Hayabusa2 to the asteroid is coming to an end. The vehicle must begin its return journey in November or December with the goal of reaching Earth by the end of 2020. When it returns to Earth, the spacecraft will deploy a capsule filled with samples on Earth, which will reintegrate the atmosphere of the planet. and parachute down below, landing somewhere in the Australian desert.