The Japanese space agency, JAXA on December 6th successfully concluded its Hayabusa-2 mission by parachuting the samples collected from Asteroid Ryugu (180 million miles away) near Woomera in South Australia. The mission was launched on 3rd December 2014 and reached the surface of asteroid Ryugu on 11th November 2018. After surveying the asteroid for a year and a half, Hayabusa-2 left the asteroid in November 2019. Hayabusa-2 is a successor to the Hayabusa-1 mission which had returned after collecting asteroid sample in June 2010.

“Hayabusa-2 is home,” Dr Yuichi Tsuda, project manager for the mission, said at a press conference on Sunday morning (GMT) in Sagamihara, Japan. “We collected the treasure box,” he said, adding: “The capsule collection was perfectly done.” Hayabusa2 carried multiple science payloads for remote sensing, sampling, and four small rovers to investigate the asteroid surface and analyze the environmental and geological context of the samples collected. There was some last-minute confusion in the exact location where the box carrying the sample had fallen. 

Dr Hitoshi Kuninaka, director-general of Japan’s Institute for Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), said: “We started the development of Hayabusa-2 in 2011. I think the dream has come true.” He also acknowledged that past missions had experienced technical problems, but said: “Regarding Hayabusa-2, we did everything according to the schedule – 100%. And we succeeded in sample return as planned. As a result, we can move on to the next stage in space development.” The next stage includes a mission called MMX, which will aim to bring back samples from Mars’ largest moon Phobos.

Satoru Nakazawa, Hayabusa-2 sub-manager at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa), described the search: “We went there with the helicopter and it was emitting the beacon signal. But at that time, it was still dark, so it was unclear [where it was]. I was very, very nervous. “We flew over the area [where it landed] many times and I thought maybe that was where it was. Then the Sun rose and we could visually confirm the existence of the capsule. We thought: ‘Wow, we found it!” “But we had a very jittery, frustrating time until sunrise.”

Prof Alan Fitzsimmons, from Queen’s University Belfast, said the sample would “reveal a huge amount, not only about the history of the Solar System but about these particular objects as well”. Later, the sample will be taken to Japan for further examination. Scientists hope that a detailed study of these parties will throw light on how water and the ingredients for life were delivered to the early Earth.

One thought on “Japan brings samples of Asteroid from space; tries to find the mystery behind the origin of life”
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