Rocks on Asteroid Ryugu Unexpectedly Porous: JAXA-Led Team

Science Society Technology

Tokyo, March 17 (Jiji Press)--Thermal imaging data have shown that rocks on the surface of asteroid Ryugu are unexpectedly porous, a team of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, and others said Tuesday.

The thermographic images indicate that "the asteroid's boulders and their surroundings have similar temperatures," the research team led by Tatsuaki Okada, associate professor at JAXA, said in an article published in the online version of science journal Nature.

"Contrary to predictions that the surface consists of regolith and dense boulders, this low thermal inertia suggests that the boulders are more porous than typical carbonaceous chondrites," the team said.

The thermographic images were taken by the Hayabusa2 unmanned spacecraft using a mid-infrared camera. Rocks on the asteroid "look like instant coffee powder that will easily fracture if you pick it up," Okada said.

The images also suggest that there are some dense boulders with colder temperatures, according to the research team.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press