Saturday , June 10 2023

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 space probe: Sample capsule found in Australia


Hayabusa 1 was already a flagship activity. The second Japanese space mission could bring back the stardust needed to keep asteroid explorers busy for years. The space probe successfully landed in the Australian desert on Sunday after a six-year mission.

The animated representation shows how the Hayabusa-2 probe releases a small capsule containing asteroid dust, which lands on a parachute.

The animated representation shows how the Hayabusa-2 probe releases a small capsule containing asteroid dust, which lands on a parachute.


The journey of the Japanese spacecraft “Hayabusa 2” took six years. Now she has successfully completed her mission to the asteroid Ryugu and sent a sample capsule to Earth. The Japanese space agency Jaxa said Sunday (local time) that a helicopter had found a small container in the landing area. It is located 460 km north of the city of Adelaide in the desert of the Vumera test site for aerospace in southern Australia. Researchers expect 4.6 billion – year – old objects in a container from the asteroid Ruge, which originated in the early days of the Solar System.

“That’s great,” said Yuichi Suda, Jaxa’s project manager for the Japanese television station NHK. It was an amazing re-entry. We all moved a lot. The mission is to answer basic questions about the origin of the solar system and where molecules like water come from. Astronomer Lisa Harvey-Smith told Australian broadcaster ABC that the mission had another purpose: “What we are doing here is exploring the real rock that is not exposed to the sun’s radiation.”

After recovery, the capsule is first inspected for its condition. Samples transferred to the laboratory at IAAS (Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences), the Jaxa research center in Sagamihara, near Tokyo, are brought to Japan in a still-closed landing capsule on the plane. Only then can a robot capsule be opened in a clean room laboratory in a vacuum chamber.

First, the individual components of the samples are curated and described before the micro, mineral, and geochemical investigation begins in mid-2021. Scientists hope to trace the origin of the solar system and life on Earth by analyzing samples. Makoto Yoshikawa, head of the mission, said the samples may contain organic matter. The main focus is on amino acids, the basic building blocks of life.

Statistics on the formation of the Solar System

“This is a historic moment for space exploration,” said Anke Kaiser-Pisalla, board chairwoman of the German Aerospace Center, in a DLR press release. Thanks to Jax, they are sure that the analysis of samples from Rug will now start another insightful chapter in international asteroid research.

The Japanese mission is part of a global effort to shed light on the formation of the solar system and life on Earth through the study of asteroids. NASA’s Osiris Rex probe recently visited an asteroid and collected rock samples. Asteroids are considered to be one of the most promising study objects, as they are one of the oldest celestial bodies in the Solar System, along with comets. For example, the age of the asteroid Ryu visited at this time is estimated to be 4.5 billion years.

Jaxa hopes to find in Stardust some biological material that can inject life into Earth through the influence of asteroids since ancient times. Mission Doubtless Head Second Asteroid Expedition 2010 The first Hayabusa mission was to fuel the possibility of bringing back up to 1,500 more of the dust that drank up. “We believe we have collected a lot of material,” he told a news conference recently.

How Japan customized asteroids

As for Yoshikawa, Jaxa continues its success story, which is changing regularly. Experts recall that the first Hayabusa mission was still dramatic. The radio contact broke and some engines failed. The pioneer almost never returned to earth. “But this time there were no major problems,” Yoshikawa said. The astronauts learned a lot from the first mission.

Among other things, it has upgraded weak ion drives, which ionize small xenon gas particles and shoot them out of the engine. They only deliver a very small amount of Ricoh, so they can only run light probes like the 609kg Hayabusa 2, but they still have a long way to go. In addition, guidance and navigation technology improved antennas and attitude control systems.

The smooth ride is already the first great success. In addition, the Hayabusa 2 has built seven premieres in the near-Earth Rugby, including the landing of the Franco-German rover Mascot, multiple accurate landings of the celestial spacecraft, and the collection of samples below the surface.

The Japanese rely on rovers from Bremen

The landing at Coober Pedy in Australia was close not only to Japan, but also to the northern German port city of Bremen. The DLR branch is in charge of project management for the Franco-German landing vehicle, Mascot, which examined the surface of the asteroid with a camera, microscope and radiometer.

“The measurements met our expectations,” said Tra-Mi Ho, a DLR expert who coordinated Mascot’s development as project manager. The microscope did not work, but other devices did. “We were thrilled with the brilliance of the pictures,” she says.

Researchers have now been able to examine the surface to the millimeter limit. In doing so, they confirmed what had previously been suspected. “The surface of the rug is not made of regolith,” she says, the thin dust covering the moon. Instead, the asteroid is porous and contains large chunks of clotted material with bright inclusions. “We are now trying to compare it to meteorites found on Earth,” Ho says.

Hoy has no more time to enjoy himself. This is because DLR is also involved in the next pioneering activity of the Japanese with the new rover. Jaxa is the first space agency to bring back 10 to 100 kilograms of rock from the Mars Phobos to Earth in 2025.

Hayabusa 2 has not yet completed the mission. Following the departure of Stardust from the asteroid Rugo, the probe begins its journey to its next stage, the 1998 KY26, a 40 – meter small, rapidly rotating asteroid.

Mission chief Yoshikawa says there is still enough xenon for the ion drive. But there is a problem: the alien rendezvous is not planned until 2031. “The question is whether the spacecraft will survive for ten years,” says Yoshikawa. “But that’s the challenge.”

With agency material

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