Japanese space probe "Hayabusa-2" has already heldthe second successful mission to collect soil samples from the asteroid Ryugu surface. Earlier we reported that the spacecraft transmitted to the Earth new images of a small celestial body during the course of this operation. And although the first animated images of the successfully completed task appeared at the same time, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA), responsible for the course of this space mission, just now published a video that shows the complete process of collecting asteroid soil samples.
The mission of the Japanese space probe "Hayabusa-2"began in December 2014. But the apparatus was able to reach its research goal, the Ryugu asteroid, only by the end of June 2018. In September of the same year, Hayabusa-2 dropped a pair of compact jumping research robots onto the surface of the asteroid. In February 2019, he conducted the first collection of soil surface samples. During the second sample collection, the probe was tasked with taking samples, but already located deep inside the asteroid. In April of the same year, the probe dropped a bursting projectile on the surface of Ryugu, forming a crater. After that, the mission team began preparing the apparatus for approaching the asteroid near this place.
How was the sample collected?
Before you start lowering and,in fact, the collection of soil samples, "Hayabusa-2" dropped on the surface of the asteroid white bright marker. With it, the mission management team was able to slowly and accurately bring the device together with the asteroid at the desired point.
Composite image of the Ryugu surface obtained by the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft prior to its landing on the asteroid on July 11
According to Space.com, before approaching an asteroid, the probe fired a special metal bullet at the surface of a celestial body. She raised the subsurface soil, which the Japanese probe collected, using a special suction device. It can be seen on the video below.
The whole process of collecting samples by the “Hayabusa-2”filmed using a CAM-H camera mounted on a spacecraft. The filming of the process began at the moment when the apparatus dropped to a height of 8.5 meters above the surface of the object. After that, the camera began to take pictures every 0.5-5 seconds. It is reported that the entire process of reducing and collecting samples took less than 10 minutes. Having collected the samples in a special container, the device launched the engines and rose abruptly to a height of 150 meters above the surface of the asteroid.
On the official website of the mission it is noted thatThe second sampling attempt was more dangerous. The combination of the complex surface of the asteroid at the site of the ground collection, the technical difficulties of maneuvering, and the fact that the probe is located several hundred million kilometers from the control center on Earth did not give the right for error. Back in February, scientists said that the second attempt to collect soil may end in failure. But they decided to take the risk anyway.
What are scientists looking for on an asteroid?
It is expected that the apparatus "Hayabusa-2" willstay near the asteroid Ryugu until November-December of this year. After that, the probe will travel with the collected samples back to Earth. Arrival is expected around the end of 2020. Having reached the Earth, the device will dump containers with samples through the atmosphere of the planet.
Scientists believe that the study of these samples inlaboratory will allow a better understanding of the history of our solar system. Perhaps the existing particles of material in these samples will tell researchers about how life on Earth could have been formed.
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