In 2014, Japanese space agency JAXA launched a device called Hayabusa-2. He was sent to the side of the so-called asteroid Ryugu after exploring the surface on which scientists want to know what life on earth looked like. The device flew to the asteroid in 2018 and has recently successfully descended to its surface. He was already busy collecting asteroid soils and later sending them to Earth – after studying them in the lab, the scientists hope to find pieces of the universe's time that reveal the mystery of the origin of life.
The landing made scientists nervous – every time the machine threatened to break, everything went fine on July 11th. He sank from a height of 20 kilometers at a speed of 10 centimeters per second on the surface of a space object. The landing site was a 7-meter radius – scientists chose it because there are no large stones that could damage the design of the unit.
How did the universe come about?
This location is also noteworthy because it is located only 20 meters from the depression that formed in April 2019 after the device threw a special explosive device on the surface of the asteroid. During the explosion, the soil from the depths of the asteroid was thrown to the surface – it is the vehicle that the apparatus is collecting.
The researchers hope that the soil samples from which the mystery of the universe originates are located exactly in the inner part of the asteroid. Previously, the device had already sunk to the surface of a space object – this happened in February 2019, but then Hayabusa-2 collected only surface samples. Maybe the device lands on the surface of the asteroid again before sending samples to Earth.
The first landing was done in February, as mentioned above. Then the device had to prove an even greater accuracy, since the radius of the landing field was only 6 meters. Scientists were unable to manually control the movement of the device because it is located at a distance of 340 million kilometers from Earth and the signals reach it for a very long time. To successfully land on the surface, the device first threw a beacon that reflected the sunlight on it – when he looked at it, he understood exactly where he had to dismount.
This time, the landing was also automatic. The device was still focused on the beacon – it did not throw it to the surface the second time because the first attempt failed.
New photos from the surface Ryugu
How are asteroids examined?
It is noteworthy that the Japanese agency did not investigate the surfaces of asteroids for the first time. The first version of the Hayabus apparatus worked from 2003 to 2010 and collected soil samples from an asteroid named Itokawa. They were brought down to earth in a special capsule – it fell in Australia while the apparatus itself was burning in the sky.
Itokava asteroids (left) and Ryugu (right)
In total, the device collected 1,500 microscopic grains that scientists studied for five months. As a result, they found that the asteroid after heating to 800 degrees Celsius must have a diameter of 20 kilometers to reach this temperature. Scientists have come to the conclusion that the Itokawa asteroid is nothing but a fragment of another, even larger space object.
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