Remote Sensing Data Sheds Light on When and How Asteroid Ryugu Lost its Water

Asteroid 1998 KY26 (insert) is approximately 1/30th the size of asteroid Ryugu. (Ryugu image: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST. 1998 KY26 image (insert): Auburn University, JAXA)

Rocks on Ryugu, a “rubble pile” near-Earth asteroid recently visited by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, appear to have lost much of their water before they came together to form the asteroid, new research suggests.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Brown University PR) — Last month, Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission brought home a cache of rocks collected from a near-Earth asteroid called Ryugu. While analysis of those returned samples is just getting underway, researchers are using data from the spacecraft’s other instruments to reveal new details about the asteroid’s past.

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NASA’s First Mission to the Trojan Asteroids Integrates its Second Scientific Instrument

An artist’s concept of the Lucy Mission. (Credit: SwRI)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Lucy mission is one step closer to launch as L’TES, the Lucy Thermal Emission Spectrometer, has been successfully integrated on to the spacecraft.

“Having two of the three instruments integrated onto the spacecraft is an exciting milestone,” said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The L’TES team is to be commended for their true dedication and determination.”

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Canada’s Top Space Highlights of 2020

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

LONGUEUIL, Que. (CSA PR) — It’s an understatement to say that 2020 was an exceptional year. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look at some of the most compelling, inspirational and incredible moments for Canada in space. Happy New Year!

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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ISRO Opens Space Situational Awareness Center

BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — In view of ever-growing population of space objects and the recent trend towards mega-constellations, Space Situational Awareness (SSA) has become an integral and indispensable part of safe and sustainable space operations.

For the last few decades, ISRO has been carrying out SSA activities, mainly focused on safeguarding India’s space assets. Recognising the need for dedicated efforts to tackle the emerging challenges of operating in an exceedingly crowded and contested space domain, Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management (DSSAM) has been established at ISRO.

The Directorate engages in evolving improved operational mechanisms to protect Indian space assets through effective coordination amongst ISRO/DOS Centres, other space agencies and international bodies, and establishment of necessary supporting infrastructures, such as additional observation facilities for space object monitoring, and a control centre for centralized SSA activities.

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French Scientists to Help Analyze Hayabusa2 Asteroid Samples

Fig. 2 Sample container A inside the room (credit: JAXA)

The Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission returned at least 5.4 g of dust from the asteroid Ryugu. That’s 50 times more than expected! These unpublished samples could contain primitive organic molecules that played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.

PARIS (CNES PR) — A fabulous Christmas present! A harvest beyond expectations! A dream come true … Words fail to qualify the extraordinary success of the Hayabusa2 mission which deposited on December 6, 2020, in the Australian desert, a 40 cm diameter capsule containing a treasure: at least 5.4 g material from asteroid Ryugu. 

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EMXYS & Royal Observatory of Belgium Receive Go Ahead for Participation in ESA’s Hera Planetary Defense Mission

Juventas CubeSat coming in for asteroid landing (Credit: ESA – Science Office)

ELCHE, Spain (EMXYS PR) — EMXYS and the Royal Observatory of Belgium have been selected by the European Space Agency to provide a gravimeter for the Juventas spacecraft that will land on asteroid Dimorphos as part of the European Space Agency’s planetary defence programme.

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Suborbital Space Again, NASA-supported Tech on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

Scientific payloads in SpaceShipTwo cabin (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Flight Opportunities program

EDWARDS, Calif. — Successful space and suborbital technology developments require ingenuity, understanding of mission and science needs, and testing. For many technologies matured with support from NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, the ability to undergo testing multiple times – and often on different types of commercial flight vehicles – adds the necessary rigor and refinement to advance these innovations.

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Asteroid Ryugu Dust Delivered to Earth; NASA Astrobiologists Prepare to Probe It

Artist’s concept of a NASA spacecraft speeding toward a rendezvous with an asteroid. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — On Dec. 6 local time (Dec. 5 in the United States), Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 dropped a capsule to the ground of the Australian Outback from about 120 miles (or 200 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. Inside that capsule is some of the most precious cargo in the solar system: dust that the spacecraft collected earlier this year from the surface of asteroid Ryugu.  

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Hera Team Congratulates JAXA on Asteroid Sample Return

The Hayabusa sample return capsule. (Credit: JAXA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The team behind ESA’s Hera asteroid mission for planetary defence congratulates JAXA for returning Hayabusa2’s capsule to Earth laden with pristine asteroid samples. They look forward to applying insights from this audacious space adventure to their own mission.

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An Exciting Day for Science and Exploration

Hayabusa2 capsule with parachute in the Woomera Prohibited Area. (Credit: JAXA)

by Thomas Zurbuchen
Associate Administrator, NASA Science Mission Directorate

Today marks an exciting and historic event as precious samples from asteroid Ryugu have been brought to Earth by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 mission. This is an extremely challenging endeavor and we commend and congratulate Japan on being not only the first nation that has been able to carry out a successful asteroid retrieval mission, but to now have done so for the second time!

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Images From the Recovery of Hayabusa2 Capsule

Hayabusa2 capsule with parachute in the Woomera Prohibited Area. (Credit: JAXA)

Japan’s Hayabusa2 sample return capsule parachuted into the Woomer Prohibited Area in Australia on Saturday carrying soil and rock samples from the asteroid Ryugu.

Examining the Hayabusa2 return capsule. (Credit: JAXA)
Recovering the Hayabusa2 return capsule. (Credit: JAXA)
The Hayabusa sample return capsule. (Credit: JAXA)
The Hayabusa sample return capsule. (Credit: JAXA)

Hayabusa2 Return Capsule Lands in Australia

Hayabusa2’s return capsule streaks across the sky as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The capsule onboard the asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 re-entered the atmosphere at around 2:28 JST on December 6, 2020. 

After that, as a result of searching the capsule body with a helicopter, it was found in Woomera Prohibited Area in Australia at 4:47 JST on December 6, 2020.

The capsule collection work is scheduled to be carried out on the morning of December 6, 2020 Japan time. The return vehicle is carrying soil and rock samples from asteroid Ryugu.

NASA Statement on NSF’s Planned Controlled Decommissioning of Arecibo Radio Telescope

The UCF-managed Arecibo Observatory in the spring of 2019. (Credit: University of Central Florida)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On Nov. 18, NASA was informed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that, after careful assessment and consideration, they have decided to decommission the 305m radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which recently sustained structural damage from failed cables.

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