Hayabusa 2: While in flight, space explorer drops asteroid grains on Earth

Hayabusa 2: While in flight, space explorer drops asteroid grains on Earth
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As it flies, the spacecraft drops asteroid grains on Earth

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Models of Hayapusa 2 land in southern Australia


During one of the most complex space missions in history, Japan succeeded in taking soil samples from an asteroid flying past the Earth and landing them safely on Earth. The mission was a huge success for Japan’s aerospace industry.

CHina drills into the moon and flies soil samples to Earth. But Japan is now technically at least taking action. During the most complex space missions in history, we were able to take soil samples from an asteroid flying past the Earth, and after traveling 5.25 billion kilometers, drop them into a small landing capsule above the Earth.

During the Hayabusa 2 mission, a mini capsule with prototypes landed in Australia on the German Peregrine Falcon 2 – while the main satellite flies to the next asteroid. It should get there in 2031. The Japanese space agency Jaxa hopes to reach 100 milligrams of Earth from the first collision with an asteroid with a diameter of 900 meters.

First, Jaxa confirmed that the parachute of the approximately 40 cm large landing capsule would be used automatically. It was already seen as a huge success. Since it was a deep night when we landed in Australia, it was initially too late to find valuable cargo from the universe. But then came the news from Jaxa: “We found the capsule” including the parachute. Models should provide information about space formation and its planets. Scientists also want to find out if meteorites could have come to Earth today.


Team members of Hayapusa 2 celebrate the success of their mission


For the Japanese aerospace industry, the Hayabusa 2 mission is a testament to its efficiency, robotics and knowledge of space orbital physics, as objects move at incredible speeds.

The H-IIA rocket, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries nearly six years ago, set off for this journey, initially with an asteroid visit to Ryuku. It was discovered about 20 years ago as an asteroid in low Earth orbit. Space is constantly searching for whether the Earth is in danger from large objects approaching. The Japanese regularly send rockets with cargo capsules to the International Space Station, most recently in late November. So you have a lot of experience in space travel.

Cost: 123 million euros

The Hayabusa 2 mission, which will cost the equivalent of 123 million euros, aims to provide additional information on the formation of planets. The plan is very complicated. The previous mission in 2010 was Hayabusa 1, which brought 1500 grains to Earth from an asteroid, which was already the first success for the Japanese. But the Hayabusa 2 is technically in high demand. The Japanese are not alone with asteroid missions: In 2016, the US space agency NASA launched the Osiris-Rex mission in 2023 to bring more than 60 grams from a planet to Earth.

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A special feature of the Hayabusa 2 mission was that the samples were discharged into a landing capsule and dropped in Australia. The actual satellite will be in space, and by 2031 only one asteroid will go 40 meters in size.

Germany and its research firm DLR (German Aerospace Center) are involved in the Hayapusa 2 mission. Apart from France, DLR was involved in the development of a small, nearly ten kilogram landing vehicle (Mascot) on the asteroid. There were also separate small hopping rovers. In February and July 2019, the study collected material from the asteroid Ryu in two unusual maneuvers. Scientists are talking about fragments that are four and a half billion years old from the earliest times of the solar system.

Japanese study

Japanese space explorer Hayapusa 2 flies to Earth (graphic representation)

Source: dpa / –

From the middle of next year, DLR researchers will be able to collect material from the capsule that landed in Australia in Japan and take it to Germany for their own investigations. The DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershop is currently developing a new laboratory for selection possibilities focusing on specialized analysis. On the other hand, it is unclear whether DLR researchers will receive lunar rocks from the Chinese from their current lunar mission.

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