This morning, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, or Jaxa, confirmed that the mission to send samples from an asteroid back to Earth had brought home some space rocks. Agency engineers found black sand believed to be from an asteroid inside the mission’s sample container.
This is great news for the Hayabusa 2 mission, which was launched into space in 2014. The mission sent a spacecraft to the asteroid Ryugu to collect rock samples from the surface of the object and bring them back to our planet for study. Before returning to Earth, Hayabusa collects material twice from 2 rugs. The vehicle arrived this month and was carried by a canister jettison filled with asteroid samples Arrived in Australia on 5 December with the help of a parachute.
To this day, Jaxa engineers do not know the exact spacecraft There were Any samples were captured. While the vehicle performed all of its sample maneuvers in Rugby as planned, the mission team had no way of confirming that the vehicle had any asteroid objects while in space. When the sample container was first opened in a clean room in Japan, they had to wait until today.
The sample container inside the re-entry capsule was opened on December 14th, and we confirmed that it contained black grains believed to be from Ruge. It is located outside the main compartments, with particles attached to the sample catcher entrance. (English release available tomorrow) https://t.co/NAw1R1cjvy pic.twitter.com/5BfXxfH29 m
– ഹയാബൂസ 2 @ ജാക്സ (@ haya2e_jaxa) December 14, 2020
“Sample container inside re-entry capsule opened” Jaxa wrote in a statement. “On March 14, a granular sample of black sand believed to have originated from the asteroid Ruge was confirmed inside a sample container.”
The good news does not end there, as there may be more asteroid objects that engineers have not yet reached. The black sand sample found by Jaxa is located during the opening of the container. There is still an important compartment inside the container that has not yet been opened, which may contain most of the sample. The mission’s goal was to collect up to 100 milligrams of material from the rug. Engineers will know if they will reach their destination as they dig deeper into the stores of Hybusa 2.