The Japanese space agency (Jaxa) has announced that a pill containing rock samples from the asteroid Ryuku, which was delivered by the Japanese spacecraft “Hayabusa 2” from a long space flight, has successfully landed in the desert of Australia.
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The small capsule, 40 cm in diameter, separated from the probe at an altitude of 220,000 km, entered the Earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of 120 km and opened a parachute at an altitude of 10 km, while the probe, called “Falcon” in Japanese, led to a new mission that could reach within ten years.
A team of Japanese scientists flew by helicopter to the area and reported that the capsule had already been found.
“We found the capsule! With the whole parachute!” Jaxa tweeted.
Landing operation requires extreme precision. In the specific landing area of the capsule, the agency deployed several satellite resources to receive the transmitted signals, using radar, drones and helicopters to search.
Instead of opening the capsule in Australia, it is expected to arrive in Japan and begin analyzing its contents in June next year.
Hayabusa 2 mission launched in December 2014; 6 billion year old rock samples.
Scientists hope that these samples, taken below the surface of the asteroid, will provide insight into the evolution of the solar system. Studies to date indicate that these rocks may contain water and biological substances such as amino acids, which could be the “source of life on Earth,” the researchers said.
The name of the asteroid in Ruke means “Dragon Castle” and in Japanese mythology it means a dragon castle at the bottom of the ocean.