Hayabusa2, The Asteroid Collector: All You Need To Know

On December 5, 2020- Japan’s space agency JAXA concluded a successful mission with Hayabusa2.

This is a major step Japan has taken in the area of space exploration. Where other space agencies are trying to land on planets, JAXA has something else on its mind.

The agency takes asteroid samples to study the origin of life, and this mission by JAXA is all about it.

Ryugu’s surface, taken on Oct. 26, 2018, by one of the two rovers
Ryugu’s surface, taken on Oct. 26, 2018, by one of the two rovers
The asteroid Ryugu, viewed by Hayabusa2

Hayabusa2: History

Hayabusa2 is a JAXA-operated asteroid sample-return mission. This is its second mission, which follows the Hayabusa mission.

The Hayabusa2 was launched on 3 December 2014 and reached the asteroid Ryugu on 27 June 2018. Hayabusa2 surveyed the asteroid for one and a half years and left Ryugu in November 2019 and returned with samples on 5 December.

So this Hayabusa Mission was 6 years and 3 days long! And do you know that it covered a distance of approximately 5.24 billion km!!

Hayabusa2: Properties

  • Hayabusa 2 has a launch mass of 610 kg.
  • It has a sample mass of 1 gram!.
  • Launched with the rocket H-IIA 202.
  • Has 4 small rovers: Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT), Rover-1A, Rover-1B, Rover-2/ MINERVA-II-2.
  • Remote sensing: Optical Navigation Camera (ONC-T, ONC-W1, ONC-W2), Near-Infrared Camera (NIR3), Thermal-Infrared Camera (TIR), Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR).
  • Sampling: Sampling device (SMP), Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI), Deployable Camera (DCAM3).

Hayabusa2:  Surface Sampling

When Hayabusa 2 touched the surface of the asteroid, a 5-gram tantalum projectile was fired with a speed of 300 m/s into the surface. The particles were then collected by the catcher.

For sub-surface sampling, a bullet called the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) was fired from the spacecraft to create a crater.

Then, the rover took a touchdown on this crater on 11 July 2019 and took the sample.

Hayabusa2: Return Journey

In November 2019, Hayabusa 2 used its ion engines to return to Earth orbit.

So how did it then deliver the sample to Earth?. Well, Hayabusa 2 released a capsule towards Earth. This contained samples taken from the asteroid.

The capsule entered Earth Atmosphere at a speed of 12km/s and deployed a parachute at an altitude of 10 km.

Finally, it touched down Earth on December 5 at  Woomera Test Range in Australia.

So How This Misson Helpful For Mankind?

These missions, not only Hayabusa but others like SpaceX, NASA, ISRO are working to extend the area that humanity can reach. Hence, these missions not only give us some hope for the future, but they also provide some robust proof of our past.

Similarly, This Hayabusa2 mission has not only increased the scope of research but also given us hope for a manned mission on an asteroid-in the search of resources.

Space Exploration is reaching new heights in the 21st century, all that we will achieve with these missions will definitely gonna help us in the future.

“I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”

                                                         – Stephen Hawking, Astrophysicist

So, with this, I end this article, for more such articles do checkout the Astronomy article on our site Alertsbuzz.

Keep Exploring!! 🙂🙂


Yuvraj Agarwal

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