Japan’s Osprey 2 spacecraft is scheduled to return to Earth later this year after collecting some samples from the asteroid Dragon Palace, but the mission provided other fascinating things before the spacecraft returned,media reported. According to data collected by the probe during the historic landing, the striking features of this ancient space rock — including signs of close contact with the sun.
Scientists believe that the reason for the great potential of studying the 1km-wide Dragon Palace asteroids is that they believe that they have remained largely unchanged since the formation of the solar system about 5 billion years ago.
Unlike planets and other celestial bodies that have changed over millions of years of geology, chemistry and collisions, much smaller asteroids are almost unscathed. It’s like giving scientists a time capsule that allows them to probe into the universe’s ancient past and explore its deepest mysteries.
“I believe that understanding the evolution of asteroids and planets is critical to understanding the origins of Earth and life,” said Tomokatsu Morota, an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Tokyo. The Asteroid Dragon Palace provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about this, as it is closer to our home so that Osprey 2 can return to Earth relatively easily. “
While scientists will eagerly await the return of Osprey 2, which has collected samples from the past two landings, they will also learn more from their closer look at the Dragon Palace.
“We used osprey 2’s ONC-W1 and ONC-T imaging instruments to observe the dust that the spacecraft’s engine raised during the landing,” Morota said. We found a large number of very fine dark red mineral particles. These are produced by the sun’s heating, which indicates that at some point the Dragon Palace must have passed near the sun. “
Further analysis of the substance by scientists has revealed the spatial distribution and light characteristics of the Dragon Palace, where dark red matter is concentrated in large numbers near latitudes, which are most vulnerable to solar radiation if the sun passes.
In addition, according to Morota, based on previous studies, they have learned that Dragon Palace is rich in carbon and contains hydrated minerals and organic molecules, “we want to know how solar heating causes chemical changes in these molecules.” The orthodontic theory known to us about solar heating may change our understanding of the orbital dynamics of asteroids in the solar system. This, in turn, will change our understanding of the wider history of the solar system, including factors that could affect the early Earth. “
Morota and his team hope to learn more about the Dragon Palace when the Ostrich 2 returns samples in December.