JAXA Hayabusa 2 space probe, operated by Japan, has started its descent towards Asteroid Ryugu on Wednesday. Its mission is to collect samples from the distant asteroid and give scientists a better understanding of the evolution of the solar system. More precisely, Hayabusa 2 needs to collect samples from underneath the surface of Asteroid Ryugu.
That operation is being performed at a distance of a quarter-billion miles away from Earth. That will be the craft’s second landing on the asteroid, having completed its first touchdown in February 2019.
Hayabusa 2 is now pursuing the collection of samples from an artificial crater it created on the Asteroid Ryugu by firing a projectile into the surface. The debris from the impact is said to hold traces of organic matter as well as water.
Scientists believe these samples are billions of years old, dating back to the formation of the solar system. If the craft is successful with safely gathering these samples, its mission will be near completed.
Hayabusa 2 To Collect Samples From Asteroid Ryugu
Asteroid Ryugu is believed to be very ancient, similar to fossils on Earth. This is why scientists believe these space objects hold the answers that concern the formation of life in the system. The issue is that solar winds wave bombarded such asteroids over time. Making it necessary to probe deeper to get the desired materials.
Hayabusa 2 started descending at 11 AM, abandoning its position, 20 km above the surface of the asteroid. This is being done at a speed of 40 cm per second. Upon reaching a distance of 5 km from the surface, it will reduce speed to 10 cm per second.
It takes upward than 10 minutes to communicate information and commands between a craft and mission control while at great distances — fourteen minutes in this case. So Hayabusa 2 has been given the information it needs to perform its flight operations by itself as the ground team could be too late in issuing commands due to the delay.
The craft has been launched in 2014 from south-west Japan and has been in orbit around the sun for more than three years before arriving at its current destination. It is expected to return to Earth in late 2020.
Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News. She covers politics and the economy.