The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 completed a carefully choreographed second touchdown on an asteroid called Ryugu last night (July 10) – and the photos are incredible.
The images shot back to Earth show the perspective of two different cameras aboard the spacecraft: the main navigation camera and a publicly-funded camera that passed the sampling mechanism. The second shows the nearby rock before and after the sampling itself.
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Missions personnel carefully lowered the Hayabusa2 spacecraft for hours before discovering the bright, white markers it had dropped to prepare for the maneuver. Then the scientists held their breath and waited for the touchdown to take place .
This process is dramatic: The spaceship lands on Ryugu's surface and then fires a ball of tantalum (scientists analyze the sample), ignoring the metal that is not found on the asteroid, into the rocky surface. Part of the debris blown up from the surface of the sphere enters the sampling tube built into Hayabusa2, and the spaceship rises from the surface.
JAXA confirmed this The placement process went smoothly and the bullet fired, indicating that it successfully intercepted a sample of material buried under Ryugu's surface until the spaceship hit a copper bomb in April used to produce a artificial crater .
Sub-surface material is particularly interesting for Scientists who want to get hold of asteroid specimens because it was protected from the harsh influences of cosmic rays and charged particles of the solar wind through space.
Hayabusa2 will leave Ryugu at the end of this year and spend about a year returning to Earth with his cargo.