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Japanese probe hits an asteroid to capture a specimen – Spaceflight Now

Moments after landing on the Ryugu asteroid, the Japanese Hayabusa 2 captured this view of its landing zone from a distance of about 100 feet (30 meters), indicating the probe shadow and markings remaining on the surface, probably from the firing of the spacecraft's jet to begin your ascension Credit: JAXA

Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 landed on the asteroid on Thursday for more than 200 million miles from Earth and launched a bullet to scoop a rocky specimen, successfully completing one of the mission's most complex maneuvers before turning the asteroid back to earth researchers. in December of 2020

The spacecraft held on Ryu's surface for only a few minutes before releasing amplifiers to climb from the asteroid. The Hayabusa 2 ground command in Sagamihari, Japan, was noted when the radio signals were given off from the probe, indicating that the maneuver with the touch and lift was without closures, pleasing engineers who thoroughly planned – and then redefined – the exact landing of the spacecraft.

] "The hand of mankind has now reached a new star," said Yuichi Zuda, Hayabusa 2 project manager at the Japanese Aerospace Research Agency, or JAXA, through an interpreter. "JAXA succeeded in the operation (i) landing Hayabusa 2 in Ryugu, and collecting samples from Ryugu."

Acting on their own, Hayabusa 2 descended to Ryugu in the glacial pace on Thursday, hit its expected elevation and speed mark before contacting the surface at 2229 GMT (5:29 pm EST). Eighteen minutes later, a change in the signal coming from Hayabusa 2 indicated that it had reached the surface and began to climb, causing applause from thoughtful scientists in the control room. the surface of the asteroid, allowing Hayabusa 2 to shoot their own jets of control, steering the ship towards a dense landing zone, surrounded by dangerous boulders.

Yuichi Zuda, Project Manager of Hayabusa 2, shows a section of the spacecraft's height during descent to the asteroid Ryu during a press conference after maneuvering on Thursday. A few hours later, representatives of the JAXA mission confirmed at the press conference that the spacecraft was perfectly executed when landing on the touch screen.

Telemetry from Hayabusa 2 showed an increase in temperature inside the compartment of 0.2-ounce (5 grams) of a tantalum shotgun firing into an asteroid. The probe uses explosive substances to shoot bullets, and the mission commanders said that the temperature rise indicates that the device was functioning as intended. It was expected that the rock and powder that had been struck by the impact of the projectile would be leaked through a horn of specimen to one of the three chambers in the reverse capsule of the spacecraft, which would return the specimens back to Earth in 2020.

Hayabusa 2, we were able to confirm that the sequence for landing the Hayabusa 2, including the firing of a projectile, has been realized, and the state of the Hayabusa 2 is normal, "said Zuda at a press conference at the Sagamihara management headquarters

Official Individuals plan to seal the cell containing specimens from landing on Thursday, ensuring that the material remains unpolluted while traveling to Earth.

Hayabusa 2 is the second mission of Japan to collect asteroid samples for return to Earth. The predecessor of the probe named Hayabusa arrived at the Itokawa asteroid, but only collected microscopic specimens from the subject after crashing into a number of problems, including the malfun in its own projectile firing system, fuel leakage, and crash-reaction wheels. Hayabusa, which means "Sapsan" in Japanese, returned the small asteroid material that he collected to Earth in June 2010.

Optical navigation camera Hayabusa 2 captured this kind of Ryugu asteroid at a distance of 6 km on July 20, 2018. Ryugu has a spinning top, the average diameter of which is almost 3000 feet (900 meters). Its gravitational field is thousands of times weaker than Earth, allowing Hayabusa 2 to fly around an asteroid with minimal fuel.

Scientists classify Ryugu as an asteroid of type C, that is, it is rich in carbon, the main building block of organic molecules. . Researchers seek to get the original samples of the asteroid for analysis in laboratories, and look for clues about the origin of water and life on Earth.

Named after the palace of the dragon in the famous Japanese fairy tale, the asteroid Ryu completes one chain of the sun every 1.3 years. His path brings him into Earth's orbit for a long time, making Ryuga a potentially dangerous asteroid

Although Hayabusa 2 explores Ryugu, the NASIR OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is reviewing another asteroid – for Bennu in the future. Like Ryu, Bennu is an asteroid-rich carbon that regularly crosses Earth's orbit.

OSIRIS-REx will bring home at least 60 grams, or 2.1 ounces of samples from Bennu in 2023, while Hayabusa 2 can return to Earth at least 100 milligrams of asteroid material. Scientists hope that both missions will return from much more.

Tsuda said that engineers are not immediately sure how many samples Hayabusa 2 collected on Thursday. But officials are convinced that the projectile worked as expected, and Zuda said that he had "the highest expectations" that Hayabusa 2 hit a "decent amount of sample."

Hayabusa 2 and OSIRIS-REx mission teams collaborate in their asteroid. research. JAXA and NASA have agreed to share samples of asteroids brought to Earth by Hayabusa 2 and OSIRIS-REx, and three US scientists from the OSIRIS-REx team are appointed as co-investigators of the Japanese mission. Instead, three Japanese researchers officially joined the OSIRIS-REx team.

The Hayabusa 2 ground team creates a photo after landing on a sandwich and round on the Ryugu asteroid. Author: JAXA

Hayabusa 2 launched on Japanese rocket H-2A on December 3, 2014, and moved to the target of asteroids using ion engines that arrived in the outskirts of Ryu in June last year. The robots roamed Ryuu in September, then released a European mobile scout to land on the asteroid in October. Miniature passengers became the first mobile vehicles to explore the surface of the asteroid. All three works returned images and scientific data.

The mission's leaders hoped that the first sample of Hayabusa 2 will appear in late October, but officials postponed the shutdown until completion of additional analysis and surveys after the spacecraft had discovered that the asteroid was more rocky and durable than expected. The leaders decided to place a marker of their intended destination at their best landing site for the first attempt at Hayabusa 2, helping the spacecraft navigate through a narrow corridor to safely reach a blaque-free place that could threaten the mission.

Hayabusa 2 may try to collect two more samples from other places on Ryugu before starting an asteroid ride in November or December. The spacecraft must begin its journey to Earth by the end of the year to return home in December 2020 when Hayabusa 2 releases the sample carrier for re-entry and parachute landing in Australia.

Tsuda seeks to complete the critical operations of Hayabusa 2 on an asteroid until June or July, when Ryugu forces its closet to approach the Sun in its 1.3-year-old orbit. surface. Author: JAXA / Akihiro Ikeshita

One of the sampling maneuvers of Hayabusa 2 will fire a copper plate – 400 times larger than a tantalum bullet used on Thursday – to cut the crater on the asteroid, allowing the ship to hook. material from the surface of Ryu. An underground sample can be valuable to scientists, since the material there was not exposed to particles and radiation that bombardes the surface of the asteroid.

"We have to figure out what to do with two landings that are still planned," Zelda said.

"At the moment we can not formulate the schedule," Zuda said. "We do not want to stay out of business for a month. This is not our plan. The state (spacecraft) is such that it is in the upper form. Maybe every two weeks or three weeks we want to carry out important operations.

Takanao Saiki, project engineer at Hayabusa 2 and flight director, said the release of a copper blow to create a Ryuga crater would be one of the Highlights of the mission.

"As much as a landing operation, and it's quite risky," Saiki said on Thursday. "Honestly, the (drummer) is a real challenge, but all team members use their brains in landing operations to this day … We would like today to celebrate success, but from tomorrow we want to start training.

"It has increased our momentum, but we have to be careful," Saiki said.


] Follow Steven Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .

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