Japan’s space agency, JAXA has marked its name in history once again by accomplishing their first landing on asteroid Ryugu. The data transmitted from the unmanned Hayabusa2 spacecraft indicated that it has touched down the asteroid. This accomplishment will contribute to the study of the evolution of the solar system by collecting the samples of soil. Back in April, Hayabusa2 was in headlines for blowing a crater in a large rock orbiting the sun.
[PPTD] July 11 at 10:51 JST: Gate 5 check. The state of the spacecraft is normal and the touchdown sequence was performed as scheduled. Project Manager Tsuda has declared that the 2nd touchdown was a success!
Live coverage from Hayabusa2 control room
JAXA is also providing the live coverage from the Hayabusa2 control room of the 2nd touchdown operation. They also shared live updates via Twitter for all the viewers. They’ll also share the latest information gathered from the samples on social media platforms. Check out the live coverage here:
Reason behind study of the asteroid Ryugu
The asteroids can be of great help as they consist of some pristine compounds which can give knowledge about how our solar system was like about 4.5 billion years ago.
Ryugu is a carbonaceous dark-coloured asteroid which includes organic molecules like amino acids. These can be one of the key elements which seeded Earth and led to the existence of life on it. About three-fourths of asteroids lie in this C-type category.
How did Hayabusa2 land on Ryugu?
The above animation shows a clear picture of how Hayabusa2 made this remarkable landing by hitting a fixed target.
Hayabusa2 targeted a particular patch, about 65 feet away from the crater it created in order to collect the desired material. Then a device called Sampler Horn was used to suck samples from the asteroid by firing a bullet made of tantalum at the asteroid’s surface.
The Japanese Space Agency had analysed in June whether it was safe to carry out the touchdown again. And on getting green signals, they accomplished this landing once again today.
[PPTD] These images were taken immediately after today’s touchdown (Jul 11) with the ONC-W1. First photo was taken at 10:06:32 JST (on-board time) and you can see the gravel flying upwards. Second shot was at 10:08:53 where the darker region near the centre is due to touchdown. pic.twitter.com/6OhrYShz4D
According to reports, the sampling procedure will begin around 10.15 a.m., local time at JAXA headquarters and will last for about 40 minutes. However, there might be some changes in the schedule due to the slow approach of Hayabusa2. This sampling procedure will mark as one of the major tasks of the robotic probe before it heads home.
NASA: Mission on Bennu
Apart from Hayabusa2, NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft is also on a similar mission. The spacecraft is collecting samples from another carbon-rich asteroid Bennu. But, as per the latest reports, it will not return home until 2023.
[PPTD] These images were taken before and after touchdown by the small monitor camera (CAM-H). The first is 4 seconds before touchdown, the second is at touchdown itself and the third is 4 seconds after touchdown. In the third image, you can see the amount of rocks that rise. pic.twitter.com/ssZU5TV3x9
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