The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is about to deliver asteroid rocks to Earth

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An illustration of the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft passing close to Earth

Akihiro Ikeshita/JAXA

Hayabusa 2 is about to aim an audacious feat. The Japanese spacecraft, which launched in the direction of the asteroid Ryugu in 2014, is on its approach again to Earth carrying two samples of rocks and dirt from the asteroid’s floor. To get these samples again to Earth, Hayabusa 2 will skim previous the planet and drop its pattern from house on a trajectory that ought to land it in Australia early on 6 December native . The pattern capsule has no thrusters, so accuracy is essential right here.

Throughout its time orbiting Ryugu, Hayabusa 2 took many photographs and off three , however the primary mission was to gather samples. The primary was taken from the floor by firing a small bullet into the bottom and gathering the particles that overrated from the impression.

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For the second, the spacecraft primarily bombed the asteroid, blasting a bit of copper in the direction of the floor with an explosive cost to excavate a crater about 10 metres throughout. This allowed Hayabusa 2 to pattern pristine materials from beneath Ryugu’s floor.

“By trying on the floor rocks after which trying on the inside rocks, it’ll actually give them an understanding of how the house surroundings modifications rocks over time,” says Kerri Donaldson Hanna on the College of Central Florida.

The rocks on Ryugu are extraordinarily porous and fragile – preliminary measurements prompt that they might be made up of as much as half empty house. “As a result of they’re so porous, if rocks like that had entered Earth’s ambiance as a meteor it most likely would have burned up and we wouldn’t have a pattern of it, so these rocks are going to be actually new to us and completely different from something in our assortment of meteorites,” says Hanna.

Hayabusa 2 will drop off the sample capsule after which hearth its engines once more to stop the primary spacecraft from crashing down. There may be nonetheless loads of gas, so after the samples have fallen to Earth the spacecraft will hurtle by and head off for one more asteroid referred to as 1998 KY26, which it’s anticipated to succeed in in 2031.

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