The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has made remarkable achievements in 2019, foreign media BGR reported. After its asteroid probe, Hayabusa 2, arrived at the target asteroid Ryugu in 2018, a team of scientists on the mission performed a number of potentially dangerous “stunts”, including launching metal bombs on asteroids to collect samples.
The Hayabusa 2 mission faced considerable challenges, especially after discovering that the surface of the Ryugu was much harder and debris-covered than anyone thought, but the sampling and acquisition operation was successful. Now, after several months in orbit around the space rock, Hayabusa 2 has set out to return to Earth.
After first understanding the surface of Ryugu, JAXA scientists quickly realized that the risk of collecting samples would be higher than expected. Scientists had to look for areas where they could launch their metal bombs, dive to collect asteroid material, and then lift off again.
This sounds almost impossible when it comes to delaying commands to spacecraft and having no real-time control options. THE JAXA scientist scored successfully. Now that the probe is returning to Earth, scientists will get the first chance to take a closer look at asteroid rock samples.
The Hayabusa 2 will take another year to return to Earth and is expected to arrive in December 2020.