Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) operates the highly powerful aircraft, Hayabusa2. The spacecraft fired a 5-g metal projectile, directed towards the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu. However, the asteroid is almost at a distance of 350million km from our planet. After almost 6 years now, Hayabusa2 could finally intercept the space rock this year. The spacecraft noted down all observations and took samples of the space rock before returning to follow the course back to Earth.
The projectile fired at the piece of rock was successfully able to disrupt the surface. In return, the spacecraft could successfully collect the lofted material. The spacecraft, Hayabusa2 will be going past our planet in around late 2020. During its course, however, it will drop the samples using a reentry capsule, which will go further analysis in labs.
Ryugu: Asteroid near Sun
Even though the physical samples need to be analyzed before making any assumptions. Many researchers have been going through the data sent by Hayabusa2 over the course of many months. On proper research, one can see that the particles landed all over the sampling station. This, in turn, changed the color from blue to red.
We took an image of the starry sky to check Hayabusa2's Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T) and were able to capture a stunning shot of the Milky Way! This image was taken on April 6, 2020 about 09:10 JST. (📷 JAXA, AIST & collaborators.) pic.twitter.com/2ECGk2hOqc
This observation, however, helps understand the latitudinal ‘stripes’ present on the surface of Ryugu. All exposed material became red due to continuous exposure to the sun and weathering of space. Researchers are waiting to study and analyze the asteroid using physical evidence. Hayabusa2 will be dropping off samples near the end of December 2020.
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Suryapratim Ray is an engineer, author, robotics hobbyist, and an active Quoran. Being a technical blogger, he covers the good, bad, and ugly of science on a regular basis at Sciencenews18. In addition to his passion for writing, he’s equally keen on learning classical music.