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Home / Science / Japan's Hayabusa2 asteroid probe grabs its space-rock bag for its return to Earth

Japan's Hayabusa2 asteroid probe grabs its space-rock bag for its return to Earth



  An image taken of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft after the second sampling procedure.

An image taken by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft after the second sampling procedure.

(Image: © JAXA, Tokyo University, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University and AIST)

Japan's spacecraft Hayabusa2 packed the capsule that will bring its precious space cargo back to earth to prepare for it. Leave the asteroid Ryugu later this year.

It is only one step completed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) when the agency turns its attention to the return phase of the mission.

Hayabusa2 completed her second and final maneuver in July. The completion of the project is likely to mean that the spacecraft's three-chamber storage mechanism is full of rocks and contains rocks from both the surface and the interior of Ryugu.

Related: Pow! The Japanese Hayabusa2 bomb asteroid Ryugu is building a crater (photo)

Today (26 August) JAXA confirmed that the sampling chamber has now been stored in the reentry capsule, which will be the sole part of the spacecraft returning to Earth. This capsule should come home in late 2020.

On their return journey, the reentry capsule will find its way through the Earth's atmosphere to land in the Woomera Conservancy in the Outback of South Australia. Japan has worked with Australia to obtain permission to install an antenna to track the location of the capsule and collect the capsule there, JAXA said.

Earlier this month, JAXA also heard from one of two small hopping rovers that Hayabusa2 had stationed on Ryugu's surface in September. According to JAXA press materials, both hoppers have woken up. The mission team thinks about what to do with them.

The main spacecraft Hayabusa2 carries another small rover called MINERVA-II2, which the team plans to deploy later in the fall. A rehearsal is planned for the 5th of September.

This mission is the Spacecraft's final task before turning back to Earth for the one-year journey to bring its precious Space Rock Cargo to scientists waiting for the special delivery in 2020.

JAXA plans to pick up the Hayabusa2 reentry capsule in Australia the Woomera Prohibited Area in the Outback of South Australia.

(Photo credits: JAXA)

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels . Follow us on Twitter @SpaceTotcom and on Facebook .


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