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Home / Science / The Hayabusa2 mission to Asteroid Ryugu has just dropped its first scientific results

The Hayabusa2 mission to Asteroid Ryugu has just dropped its first scientific results



Close-up of Ryugu's surface with arrows pointing to a rugged, layered boulder.
Photo: Seiji Sugita et al. (Science (2019))

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 mission has published its first scientific findings on the asteroid Ryugu – and has shown a series of surprises about the small, spinning stone.

Hayabusa2 is one of two missions currently visiting samples of asteroids near Earth and attempting to collect samples. His first observations have already shown that a Ryugu deviates from expectations: instead of a wet mass of differently shaped stones, it is a spinning heap of uniform debris with less water than expected. These new findings will help scientists write the story of this object, which now includes a phase of rapid rotation and a possibly chaotic birth of a parent.

Launched in December 2014, Hayabusa2 reached 900 meters (Asteroid Ryugu last summer, 2950 feet wide) and has since taken unbelievable pictures and only last month successfully (but quickly) to collect a sample Firing a tantalum orb in the asteroids and uprooting the resulting debris, it will soon launch an explosive on Ryugu to collect samples below the surface of the asteroid, while Hayabusa2 sang data as it fluttered around the rock, using it a spectrometer that measures the different wavelengths of near-infrared radiation reflected by the asteroid, a navigation camera, an infrared camera, a telescope and a laser altimeter

The asteroid shows a ridge (yellow) and a trough (light blue) with a red one Arrow pointing to a bright area
Image: S. Sugita et al. (Science (2019))

Scientists released results e present Ryugu's most comprehensive history at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Texas, and publish it in three articles in Science. Most astonishing was the fact that Ryugu shows relatively little water compared to the asteroid compared to the asteroid, said Koizi Kitazato, a professor at the Japanese University of Aizu, who works on the near-infrared spectrometer of Hayabusa2, said Gizmodo. These results indicate that Ryugu is blacker than coal and closely resembles the carbonaceous chondrites found on Earth, relatively rare carbonaceous meteorites whose internal structure has been altered by heat or shock. The results also suggest that the interior of Ryugu consists largely of rocks of equal size, possibly fragments that fell from a larger body in a collision with relatively little water.

The temperature of Ryugu (blue is -23 ° C, red is 126 ° C [19659002)] Graphic: S. Sugita et al. (Science (2019))

Leave the observations of the surface and shape of the asteroid Its low density is only slightly higher than that of water or about it. That of coal is a porous heap of debris, its superficial form and the material that seems to be scattered around its surface, a time of fast spinning in its past, its surface also littered with many boulders is variable sizes up to 20 meters (65 feet) in diameter or more, in different colors.

The results suggest that each body, the Ryugu of A past experience of inner warming aborted, perhaps helping to understand the closeness of the formed solar system or the nature of this larger body.The results so far are also becoming contribute to Hayabusa2's researchers selecting a site for further sampling along the equatorial crest of the asteroid.

These are first results, which is why you see so many "suggestions" – "s" and "maybe" – but they bring with them exciting questions: Ryugu could tell the scientists how minerals are delivered from the asteroid belt to Earth Sei-ichiro Watanabe, the lead author of another newspaper and professor at Nagoya University in Japan, told Gizmodo, "It could tell us more about the history of the solar system." There's just a lot we do not know about asteroids And if the mission is successful, she'll bring back a piece of Ryugu for further investigation here on Earth – not the first time, but hopefully a larger sample than the first Hayabusa mission returned from Earth with 1500 dust grains asteroid Itokawa after some difficulties.

"Hayabusa2 will bring Ryugu samples back to Earth in 2020," Kitazato said. "We expect the Ant word on this question is obtained from the analysis of the Ryugu samples. "


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