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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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 These unpublished samples could contain primitive organic molecules that played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.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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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 Johnson Builds Labs to Study New Asteroid Samples, Cosmic Mysteries

A rendering of the new asteroid lab being built at Johnson Space Center. When the samples are returned to Earth in 2023 they will be brought to this lab for curation and initial examination. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — When the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touches asteroid Bennu, it will capture NASA’s first sample from an asteroid and provide rare specimens for research that scientists hope will help them shed light on the many mysteries of our solar system’s formation.

The sample is scheduled for return to Earth in 2023 to be examined and stored in state-of-the-art curation facilities now under construction at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The labs will be managed by NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division, also known as ARES. The division is home to the world’s greatest astromaterials collections — including lunar rocks, solar wind particles, meteorites, and comet samples — and some of the experts who research them.

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First Tests for Land­ing the Mar­tian Moons eX­plo­ration Rover

Preparations for a drop test. (Credit: DLR)
  • Intensity of the landing impact on Mars’ moon Phobos is being tested with a rover model.
  • The housing of the rover consists of a lightweight construction made of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers (CFRP).
  • The landing on Phobos is planned for late 2026 or early 2027 as part of the MMX mission

BREMEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission will have a German-French rover on board when it is launched in 2024. The rover will land on the Martian moon Phobos and explore its surface for approximately three months.

Initial landing tests are currently underway at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Landing and Mobility Test Facility (Lande- und Mobilitätstest Anlage; LAMA) in Bremen. Using a first preliminary development model, the engineers are determining how robust the design of the approximately 25-kilogram rover must be to withstand an impact on the moon’s surface after a free fall of about 40 to 100 metres.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx to Asteroid Bennu: “You’ve got a little Vesta on you…”

During spring 2019, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured these images, which show fragments of asteroid Vesta present on asteroid Bennu’s surface. The bright boulders (circled in the images) are pyroxene-rich material from Vesta. Some bright material appear to be individual rocks (left) while others appear to be clasts within larger boulders (right). (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In an interplanetary faux pas, it appears some pieces of asteroid Vesta ended up on asteroid Bennu, according to observations from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The new result sheds light on the intricate orbital dance of asteroids and on the violent origin of Bennu, which is a “rubble pile” asteroid that coalesced from the fragments of a massive collision.

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Hayabusa2 to Visit Rapidly Spinning Asteroid in Extended Mission

Hayabusa2 spacecraft at asteroid 1998 KY26. (Credit: Auburn University, JAXA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

JAXA has selected a second asteroid for Hayabusa2 to explore after the spacecraft completes its primary mission to Ryugu in December. But, it’s not going to be an easy destination to reach.

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JAXA to Send 8K Camera on Martian Moons Exploration Mission

Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) have decided to jointly develop a “Super Hi-Vision Camera” that is capable of filming 4K and 8K images in space for JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission.

This would be the first time in history that 8K ultra high definition images of Mars and its moons are taken in proximity. By combining the actual flight data of the MMX spacecraft and the images taken by the Super Hi-Vision Camera, the exploration of the MMX spacecraft around Mars and its moons (the Martian system), 300 million kilometers from the Earth, will be recreated.

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Vancouver Recommendations on Space Mining

Vancouver Recommendations on Space Mining
The Outer Space Institute
April 20, 2020

Background

Humanity is entering a new era of developing and utilizing Space that will likely include mining on the Moon, on near-Earth asteroids, and eventually on Mars. As part of this new era, a growing number of state and non-state actors are becoming capable of accessing and operating in Space.

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Hayabusa2 Sample Return Capsule to Land in Australia on Dec. 6

Schematic diagram of the Earth return orbit for Hayabusa2 and operations. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On August 10, 2020, JAXA was informed that the Authorisation of Return of Overseas-Launched Space Object (AROLSO) for the re-entry capsule from Hayabusa2 was issued by the Australian Government. The date of the issuance is August 6, 2020.

The Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule will return to Earth in South Australia on December 6, 2020 (Japan Time and Australian Time). The landing site will be the Woomera Prohibited Area. The issuance of the AROLSO gave a major step forward for the capsule recovery.

We will continue careful operation for return of Hayabusa2 and recovery of the capsule, and the operation status will be announced in a timely manner.

Comment from JAXA President, Hiroshi Yamakawa:

“The approval to carry out the re-entry and recovery operations of the Hayabusa2 return sample capsule is a significant milestone. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the support of the Australian Government as well as multiple organizations in Australia for their cooperation.

“We will continue to prepare for the successful mission in December 2020 in close cooperation with the Australian Government.”