#video | A Japanese spaceship collected asteroid soil samples. What is he looking for there?


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The Japanese space probe Hayabusa-2 has already completed the second successful mission to collect soil samples from the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. Earlier, we reported that during this operation, the spaceship transferred new images of a small celestial body to Earth. And although at the same time the first animated images of the successfully completed task appeared, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA), which is responsible for running this space mission, has just released a video showing the entire process of collecting asteroid soil samples.

The mission of the Japanese space probe "Hayabusa-2" began in December 2014. However, it was not until the end of June 2018 that the apparatus was able to reach its research target, the Ryugu asteroid. In September of the same year, Hayabusa-2 dropped a pair of compact jumping research robots onto the surface of the asteroid. In February 2019 he carried out the first sampling of soil surface samples. During the second sampling, the probe was commissioned to take the sample, but was already deep in the asteroid. In April of the same year, the probe threw a bursting projectile on the surface of Ryugu and formed a crater. Afterwards, the mission team prepared the apparatus for approaching the asteroid near this location.

How was the sample taken?

Before Hayabusa-2 proceeded with the reduction and collection of soil samples, he dropped a white bright marker on the surface of the asteroid. This allowed the mission management team to bring the device slowly and accurately in the desired location with the asteroid.


Composite image of the Ryugu surface that the spaceship Hayabusa-2 has captured before landing on the asteroid on July 11th

As reported by Space.com, the probe, before approaching the asteroid, fired a special metal ball into the surface of a celestial body. She picked up the underground soil collected by the Japanese probe with a special sucker. It can be seen in the video below.

The entire process of collecting samples with the Hayabusa-2 was filmed with a CAM-H camera mounted on a spacecraft. The filming began at the time the apparatus fell to a height of 8.5 meters above the surface of the object. After that, the camera started taking pictures every 0.5-5 seconds. It is reported that the entire process of reducing and collecting samples took less than 10 minutes. After the device collected the samples in a special container, it started the engines and abruptly rose to a height of 150 meters above the surface of the asteroid.

The mission's official website states that the second attempt to collect samples was more dangerous. The combination of the complex surface of the asteroid at the site of the ground collection, the technical difficulties in maneuvering and the fact that the probe is located several hundred million kilometers from the control center on Earth, allowed no mistakes. Back in February, scientists said the second attempt to collect land could fail. But they decided to take the risk anyway.

What are scientists looking for on an asteroid?

The spacecraft Hayabusa-2 is expected to be on the Ryugu asteroid by November-December this year. Thereafter, the probe returns to Earth with the collected samples. The arrival is expected towards the end of 2020. When the device reaches the earth, it will empty containers of samples through the atmosphere of the planet.

Scientists believe that examining these samples in the laboratory will allow a better understanding of the history of our solar system. Perhaps the material particles present in these samples tell the researchers how life on Earth might have been.

Also read: Two Earth-like exoplanets were discovered in the neighboring system

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