Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft is not scheduled to return its precious cargo of soil samples of asteroid Ryugu to Earth for 16 more months, but it has already begun to pack up for home.
“In an operation today (August 26), the sample catcher was stored in the re-entry capsule (see figure). The sampler and capsule teams gathered to watch and the operation was completed successfully. The capsule is now ready for Earth return!” JAXA tweeted.
The asteroid is similar to carbonaceous, 4.5 billion year old meteorites found in collections on Earth.
Ryugu has numerous cavities.
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — In the summer of 2018, the asteroid Ryugu, which measures only approximately 850 metres across, was visited by the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft. On board was the 10-kilogram German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) – a lander no bigger than a microwave oven and equipped with four instruments.
From the folktale of the “rolling rice ball”. This was chosen as the boulders in this vicinity are shaped like Japanese rice balls and may roll down into the crater. The crater will also continue to be referred to as the “SCI crater”, depending on the situation.
In memory of Yuichi Iijima. Dr Iijima worked to gain the cooperation from universities outside JAXA during the start-up of the Hayabusa2 Project and so laid the foundation for Project’s success. In particular, in order to maximise the scientific results from the impact experiment, he worked hard across different fields and focussed on the proposal and development for the digital deployable camera for scientific observation (DCAM3). Dr Iijima passed away on December 7, 2012.
In memory of Chisato Okamoto. Dr Okamoto was one of the core members of the Hayabusa2 sampler development team and energetically repeated laboratory experiments in preparation for collecting samples on Ryugu. She was also a member of the impact experiment team and played a central role in the simulation of the asteroid surface conditions used for the impact experiment in Kamioka. Dr Okamoto passed away on July 25, 2018.
An onigiri is a Japanese rice ball (sometimes the shape is triangular) and resembles this boulder. (Both omusubi and onigiri mean rice ball.)
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — This report concerns the current status of the return and recovery plan of the Hayabusa2 sample return capsule.
At the end of 2020, Hayabusa2 plans to return to the Earth with the
samples collected from asteroid Ryugu. As with the recovery of the first
Hayabusa in 2010, JAXA is currently working with the Australian
Government to support the recovery of the Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule in
2020 at the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) located in the outback desert
of South Australia.
CANBERRA (Australian Space Agency PR — To learn more about the solar system’s origin and evolution, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is investigating typical types of asteroids. Analysing samples from asteroids enables us to study organic matter and water in the solar system.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — After months grappling with the rugged reality of asteroid Bennu’s surface, the team leading NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission has selected four potential sites for the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft to “tag” its cosmic dance partner.
PARIS (ESA PR) — On 25 July, an asteroid the size of a football field flew by Earth, coming within 65 000 km of our planet’s surface during its closest approach – about one fifth of the distance to the Moon.
The 100 m-wide asteroid dubbed ‘2019 OK’ was detected just days before
it passed Earth, although archival records from sky surveys show it had
previously been observed but wasn’t recognised as a near-Earth asteroid.
While 2019 OK illustrates the need for even more eyes on the sky, it also provides an opportunity to improve the asteroid recognising abilities of current and future telescopes, including ESA’s upcoming ‘Flyeye‘.
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR) PR) — Ryugu and other asteroids of the common ‘C-class’ consist of more porous material than was previously thought. Small fragments of their material are therefore too fragile to survive entry into the atmosphere in the event of a collision with Earth.
This has revealed the long-suspected cause of the deficit of this meteorite type in finds on Earth. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have come to this conclusion in a scientific paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
PARIS (ESA PR) — Asteroid 2006 QV89, a small object 20 to 50 metres in diameter, was in the news lately because of a very small, 1-in-7000 chance of impact with Earth on 9 September 2019.
In the first known case of ruling out an asteroid impact through a
‘non-detection’, ESA and the European Southern Observatory have
concluded that asteroid 2006 QV89 is not on a collision course this year – and the chance of any future impact is extremely remote.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Today (July 11), the Hayabusa2 spacecraft performed a second touchdown on the surface of asteroid Ryugu. The touchdown occurred at 10:06 JST at the on board time and was successful.
From the data sent from Hayabusa2, it has been confirmed that the touchdown sequence, including the discharge of a projectile for sampling, was completed successfully. Hayabusa2 is functioning normally, and thus the second touchdown ended with success.
Below we show images taken before and after the touchdown. As this is a quick bulletin, more detailed information will be given in the future.
TOULOUSE, France (ESA PR) — ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence, being designed to survey the smallest asteroid ever explored, is really three spacecraft in one. The main mothership will carry two briefcase-sized CubeSats, which will touch down on the target body. A French team has been investigating what might happen at that initial instant of alien contact.
“We’ve customised an existing drop tower and rigged it up with a system of pulleys and counterweights in order to simulate a low gravity environment,” explains researcher Naomi Murdoch of the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-Supaero), part of the University of Toulouse.
NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA ) — Astronauts on the Moon found themselves hopping around, rather than simply walking. Switzerland’s SpaceBok planetary exploration robot has followed their example, launching all four legs off the ground during tests at ESA’s technical heart.
SpaceBok is a quadruped robot designed and built by a Swiss student team from ETH Zurich and ZHAW Zurich. It is currently being tested using robotic facilities at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [JAXA] has agreed to cooperate with Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) on the study-phase activities in JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission and analysis of Hayabusa2-returned samples.
NASA selected two projects for funding focused on developing in-space welding technologies as part of its recent round of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards.
The space agency selected Busek Company of Natick, Mass., and Made in Space of Jacksonville, Fla., for phase 1 awards worth up to $125,000 apiece for six months.
“Busek proposes to initiate the development of a semi-autonomous, teleoperated welding robot for joining of external (or internal metallic uninhabited volume at zero pressure) surfaces in space,”according to the proposal summary. “This welding robot will be an adaptation of a versatile Busek developed system called SOUL (Satellite On Umbilical Line) with a suitable weld head attached to it.