Tuesday , July 5 2022

The asteroid probe in Japan Hayabusa2 was about to end


TOKYO: The Japanese probe Hayabusa2 began to descend on Wednesday (July 10) for its final touchdown on a distant asteroid, hoping to collect samples that could illustrate the evolution of the solar system.

"At 9.58, we made a" Go "decision for the second touchdown of the Hayabusa2 probe," said the Aerospace Exploration Agency of Japan (JAXA) in a statement.

"Currently, the probe works normally."

It is hoped that the probe will touch Ryugu's asteroid Thursday, about 300 million km from Earth.

If successful, it will be the second time that it has landed in the deserted asteroid as part of a complex mission that has also involved the sending of robots and robots.

The mission hopes to collect immaculate materials beneath the surface of the asteroid, which could provide information about how the solar system was at birth, about 4,600 million years ago.

Space mission Hayabusa2

Main stages of the space mission Hayabusa2 from Japan to the asteroid Ryugu AFP / Jean Michel CORNU

In order to obtain these crucial materials, in April a "impactor" of Hayabusa2 was shot towards Ryugu in a risky process that created a crater on the surface of the asteroid and woke up material that had not been exposed to the atmosphere.

"This is the second touchdown, but making a touchdown is a challenge, either the first or the second," said Yuichi Tsuda, manager of the Hayabusa2 project, before the mission.

"The whole team will do everything possible so we can complete the operation," he said.


The first touchdown of Hayabusa2 was in February, when he briefly landed Ryugu and shot a bullet on the surface to blow the pulse to pick it up, before flying to his position.

The second touchdown requires special preparations because any problem may mean that the probe loses precious materials already collected during its first landing.

A photo of the crater taken by the camera of Hayabusa2 shows that parts of the surface of the asteroid are covered with materials that "obviously are different" from the rest of the surface, said mission director Makoto Yoshikawa to journalists.

The asteroid of Ryugu, located about 20 kilometers away

The asteroid Ryugu seen from about 20 kilometers away AFP / Handout

He expects the probe to make a small touchdown in an area located about 20 meters from the center of the crater to collect unidentified materials that are believed to be "expelled" from the explosion.

"It would be safe to say that extremely attractive materials are near the crater," Tsuda said.

Touchdown will be the last important part of Hayabusa2's mission, and when the probe returns to Earth next year, scientists expect to learn more about the history of the solar system and even the origin of life from his samples.

"I am looking forward to analyzing these materials," said Yoshikawa.

Equipped with a large refrigerator and equipped with solar panels to keep it running, Hayabusa2 is the successor of the first asteroid explorer of JAXA, Hayabusa – Japanese for the hawk.

This probe returned with dust samples of an asteroid in the form of a smaller potato in 2010, despite several setbacks during the epic seventy-year period and was acclaimed as a scientific triumph.

Hayabusa2 watches Ryugu's surface with his camera and detection equipment, but has also sent two tiny MINERVA-II robots, as well as the French-German robot MASCOT to help superficial observation.

His photos of Ryugu, which means "Dragon Palace" in Japanese and referring to a castle at the bottom of the ocean in an ancient Japanese history, show that the asteroid has a rough surface full of rocks.

Launched in December 2014, the Hayabusa2 mission has a price of around 30,000 million yen (270 million US dollars) and is expected to return to Earth with its samples by 2020.

But his mission has already made history, even with the creation of the crater on the surface of Ryugu.

In 2005, the NASA Deep Impact project managed to create an artificial crater on a comet, but only for observation.

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