Highlights

Japan’s asteroid sample-return mission “Hayabusa2” spacecraft is nearing the earth after a yearlong journey from asteroid Ryugu (162173 Ryugu). The asteroid is located at a distance of about 300 million km from the planet Earth. The Hayabusa2 spacecraft is to reach the earth in Southern Australia on 6 December 2020 carrying precious samples from the asteroid.

The asteroid sample-return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

According to the Japanese space agency the capsule that is protected by a heat shield will turn into a fire ball at its 200 km from the earth surface. The parachute of the capsule will open at about 10 km.

In February 2019, the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft collected surface dust samples from the asteroid 162173 Ryugu. Later in July 2019, the spacecraft collected underground samples from the 162173 Ryugu. This is the first time in the history of world space underground samples are collected from an asteroid.

The Hayabusa 2 took three and half years to reach the asteroid to go. However, the return journey was much shorter due to its location relative to the earth.

Hayabusa2 mission

Hayabusa2 follows Hayabusa mission that returned asteroid samples in 2010. In 2014, Hayabusa2 was launched. The mission surveyed the asteroid 162173 Ryugu for a year and half. Later it collected the samples from the asteroid and left to the earth in November 2019. The mission is expected to provide knowledge about the evolution of inner planets especially in the origin of water and organic compounds on the earth.

162173 Ryugu

162173 Ryugu is a carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid. The carbonaceous asteroids hold the most Pristine materials in the solar system. The mass of asteroid is 450 billion kg.

About Carbonaceous asteroid

It form around 75 per cent of the known asteroids. As their composition includes large amount of carbon, they are distinguished by a very low albedo. Albedo is the measure of reflection of solar radiation. The value of albedo is between 0 and 1. The carbonaceous asteroid occurs mostly at the outer edge of the Asteroid belt.

Rovers of Hayabusa2

Hayabusa2 carried 4 small Rovers. These Rovers were deployed at different dates. The first two Rovers were called HIBOU and OWL.  The 3rd Rover was called MASCOT. The 4th Rover called MINERVA failed before it was released from the Orbiter.

MASCOT

It is Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout developed by the joint cooperation of French Space Agency (National Centre for Space Studies) and German Aerospace centre. It is the only object of the mission developed by a foreign Space Centre. The rest of the components were developed within Japan and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Hayabusa 2 Spacecraft to land on Earth Hayabusa 2 Spacecraft to land on Earth