In 2014, Japanese scientists launched into spaceinterplanetary station "Hayabusa-2". In mid-2018, she reached the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, which is located at a distance of 340 million kilometers from us. The device has been collecting materials for a long time both from the surface and from the depths of the space object. Scientists are interested in them because since the formation of the solar system they should have been preserved in their original form. After six years of traveling in space the device finally returned to Earth and dropped the container with collected materials... Scientists have already found them and sent them to study.As part of this article, I suggest you figure out exactly how the Hayabusa-2 mission took place and what the station will do in the coming years. After all, she did not return to us, but went to meet other space travels.
Why do we need asteroid samples?
The diameter of the asteroid Ryugu is only 900meters, but has long been of great interest to scientists. It is believed that the materials on the surface and depths of this space object remained the same as when the solar system was created. The fact is that large celestial bodies like the Earth were constantly heating up, cooling down and undergoing other changes. Small planets and even more so asteroids have hardly changed their structure and composition over billions of years. According to the head of the Hayabusa-2 mission, Makoto Yoshikawa, substances created 4.6 billion years ago may still be on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu.
If the asteroid Ryugu and other similar objectsformed together with the solar system, they could affect the development of life on Earth. For example, they could deliver water and other organic compounds important for life to our planet. Thus, with the help of materials collected by the Hayabusa-2 apparatus, it will be possible to unravel the mystery of the origin of life on Earth. And if you compare these materials with samples of other asteroids, you can find out what the difference is between them.
Return of "Hayabusa-2" to Earth
The interplanetary station completed its work onthe asteroid Ryugu in 2019. The return flight to Earth took the spacecraft a year. In early December, he made five maneuvers near Earth in order to throw the collected samples onto our planet. The capsule with the collected data separated from the device at an altitude of 223 thousand kilometers. She entered the Earth's atmosphere and opened the heat shields that protected the capsule from combustion. At an altitude of 10 kilometers, parachutes were deployed, with the help of which the capsule made a soft landing in one of the deserts of Australia.
Interesting fact: To collect samples of the asteroid, the Hayabusa-2 device created a crater on its surface using explosives. You can read more about this in this article.
Thanks to the helicopter, the capsule was quickly found. At the time of this writing, it has probably already been delivered to clean roomwhere it will be analyzed.The scientists will need to be very careful because the first thing they need to do is examine the gases in the capsule. At the same time, it is important for them to prevent the ingress of the earth's air.
Clean room Is a room that is strictly maintainedcertain temperature and humidity, and practically no dust and other small particles. As a rule, such premises are built for scientific research.
But the opening in a vacuum is only scheduled forend of December 2020. And in mid-January 2021, researchers will extract the contents of the capsule and do a preliminary study. Half of the samples will be sent by Japanese scientists to American colleagues and international organizations. Also, some of the material will be saved for the future. It will be studied after the invention of more advanced analysis technologies.
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It should be noted that this is the work of the stationHayabusa-2 is not finished yet. At a distance of 210 thousand kilometers from the Earth, it changed its trajectory and went to the asteroid 1998KY26. This space object with a diameter of 30 meters orbits between the orbits of the Earth and Mars. Its composition should be the same as that of Ryugu. But the collection of samples will not be carried out, because scientists just want to observe the object. The approach to this asteroid will take place only in July 2031.