Capsule with Asteroid Samples Separated from Hayabusa2

Science Society Technology

Tokyo, Dec. 5 (Jiji Press)--The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, successfully separated a capsule believed to contain samples of sand of the Ryugu asteroid from the Hayabusa2 unmanned probe at 2:30 p.m. Saturday Japan time (5:30 a.m. GMT).

The capsule entered Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 12 kilometers per second and is expected to land in a desert in southern Australia early Sunday.

After dropping the re-entry capsule, Hayabusa2 fired its chemical engines three times to escape Earth's gravity as it heads for another asteroid, 1998KY26, for its next mission. The spacecraft aims to reach the new target asteroid in 2031.

Previously, the first Hayabusa probe brought home sand from the Itokawa asteroid in 2010. If sand from Ryugu is collected successfully, this would be the first time in the world for samples from a carbonaceous asteroid being brought to Earth.

The re-entry capsule was separated from Hayabusa2 at a point some 220,000 kilometers from Earth. The capsule, about some 40 centimeters in diameter and 20 centimeters in height, and weighing 16 kilograms, will deploy a parachute at an altitude of some 10 kilometers to descend. JAXA will identify the capsule's landing site from beacon signals it emits and retrieve it using a helicopter.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press