A Japanese spacecraft approaches Earth after a year – long journey from a distant asteroid with soil samples and data that could give clues about the origin of the Solar System.
Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency believe that the samples, especially those taken from the asteroid’s surface, contain valuable data that do not affect space radiation and other environmental factors.
Makoto Yoshikawa, project manager for the Hayabusa 2 project, said scientists were particularly interested in analyzing the organic matter in the samples of the Rugby soil.
“Biomass is the origin of life on Earth, but we still do not know where it came from,” Yoshikawa said. We want to find clues about the origin of life on Earth by analyzing the details of the biomass brought back by Hayabusa 2.
Jaxa staff has deployed satellite resources at various locations to capture signals, and is preparing marine radar, drones, and helicopters to assist in the search and rescue mission.
Without these steps, it would be difficult to look for a 40 cm (15 inch) diameter pan-shaped capsule, ”Yoshikawa told reporters.
For Hayabusa 2, this is not the end of the mission that began in 2014. After leaving the capsule, it will return to space and fly to another distant asteroid, 1998KY26.
Despite the very rocky surface, Hayabusa 2 touched the rug twice and successfully collected data and samples within 10 years of arriving there in June 2018.
During the first touchdown in February 2019, it collected surface dust samples. In July, for the first time in space history, underground samples were collected from an asteroid that had previously landed in a crater and exploded on the asteroid’s surface.
Scientists say samples of asteroid soils contain evidence of carbon and organic matter. Jaxa hopes to find clues as to how objects are distributed in the solar system and are related to life on Earth.
Asteroids that orbit the Sun and are much smaller than the planets are one of the oldest objects in the Solar System, so it may help to explain how the Earth evolved.
It took 30 years to reach Ryugu, but the journey home was short, due to the current location of Ryugu and the land.
Ryugu in Japanese means “Dragon Palace”.