- The asteroid probe Hayabusa 2, sent by the Japanese space agency JXAA, made two attempts to collect material from the surface of the space rock Ryu.
- As the samples now returned, fine particles and sandy matter were collected in the initial attempt, but the second attempt was more effective.
- JAXA describes the second specimen, consisting of rocks up to about half an inch long, and they are very hard.
Japan’s Hayabusa 2 asteroid probe mission took a long, long time. Ryugu took several months to fly to the asteroid, and the time the spacecraft spent in orbit around the asteroid was long in itself. The biggest risk to the spacecraft – and one of the mission’s most important objectives – was to bring asteroid samples back to Earth.
It had completed that task a few weeks earlier, and Japan slowly began to reveal information about the samples that were under investigation. The first reveal was somewhat less revealing of some black, charcoal-like dust and small pebbles from the first specimen collection effort. Now, after JAXA showed its second batch of asteroid sample material we can say with certainty that the mission was a huge success.
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As Como news The report, the most recent release of images of asteroid samples, gives us a much clearer picture of what Japanese scientists are working with in the coming months and years. According to JAXA, the second specimen in particular looks quite promising with the large size of the rock.
The differences in sample content have been attributed to the very different circumstances under which they were collected. The first specimen was stripped when Hayabusa 2 made a brief touch on the asteroid, so it was mostly dust and small pebbles from the surface. For the second sample, the JAXA team actually used the Hayabusa 2 to project the projectile into the asteroid, which flies a hole in the surface to collect material from within the rock.
The fact that the second sample includes both large and small rocks suggests that the base of the asteroid differs in terms of hardness, according to Jaxa Space Materials Scientist Tomhiro Usui. Asteroid samples are currently being studied in some informal manner, with observations noted, but more in-depth study of the material and the rocks it may contain will occur over several months and perhaps even years.
Meanwhile, the asteroid is not investigated by its work. After dropping the samples to Earth, the probe returned to space. It is headed for another asteroid that JAXA wants to study, but will take a little longer to reach. The journey to the asteroid will take 11 years, so we won’t hear much about it for some time.