Japan’s Capsule Returned With 5 Grams Of Asteroid Soil

By: | December 21st, 2020

Image courtesy: JAXA

The capsule brought back by the Hayabusa2 space probe containing pristine asteroid fragments returned to the Earth. Scientists foresee that the contents could help us know more about the origins of our solar system.

Scientists were amazed after finding a good amount of the soil and gas samples from asteroid Ryugu. It contained more than 5.4 grams of soil samples, which is far more than the original target of 0.1 gram.

Hayabusa-2: Spacecraft Hayabusa-2 was launched into space by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in December 2014. Its mission was to explore Ryugu, an asteroid that’s over 5.5 million miles from Earth and is about half-a-mile in diameter. 

Hayabusa-2 reached its destination in June 2018. To harvest the samples and to reveal the material under the surface, it fired the asteroid with a copper plate and a box of explosives. It successfully extracted the first-ever sub-surface samples from the asteroid Ryugu. Now on December 6, the capsule landed in the Woomera Prohibited Area in Australia. JAXA scientists then flew the capsule to Japan.

JAXA Hayabusa2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda, said, “We have confirmed a good amount of sand apparently collected from the asteroid Ryugu, along with gases” 

“The samples from outside of our planet, which we have long dreamed of, are now in our hands”

According to scientists, the samples look like dark coffee grounds or black sesame seeds. Now scientists are hopeful these samples could help in providing information about our solar system billions of years ago. Scientists are hopeful because extracted samples are unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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