Hayabusa2 Spacecraft of Japan: Key Facts

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft of Japan is nearing the earth after a yearlong journey from asteroid Ryugu. The asteroid is located at a distance of about 300 million kilometres from the Earth. The spacecraft is to reach the earth in Southern Australia on December 6, 2020 carrying precious samples from the asteroid .

The entire operation is being held by JAXA, Japanese Aerospace exploration agency. According to the agency the capsule that is protected by a heat shield will turn into a fire ball at its 200 kilometre from the earth surface. The parachute of the capsule will open at about 10 kilometres.

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

The spacecraft 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

This mission follows Hayabusa mission that returned asteroid samples in 2010. Hayabusa2 was launched in 2014. It surveyed the asteroid 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.

Ryugu

It is a carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid. The carbonaceous asteroids hold the most Pristine materials in the solar system.

Carbonaceous asteroid

The carbonaceous asteroid form around 75% 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 four small Rovers. These Rovers were deployed at different dates. The first two Rovers were called HIBOU and OWL.  The third Rover was called MASCOT. The fourth Rover called MINERVA failed before it was released from the Orbiter.

MASCOT

MASCOT is Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout. It was developed by the joint cooperation of French Space Agency CNES 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 JAXA.

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