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Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft has completed an important part of its mission to asteroid Ryugu. The spacecraft descended to the surface of the asteroid to collect two samples with its sampling horn. We don’t know for sure if samples were successfully collected, but all indications are that the sampling mission went well.
The successful touchdown took place at 8:42 JST on February 22nd, and was confirmed with a tweet from the Hayabusa2 control room.
Projectile - Command - Refers - Method - Hayabusa2
The “projectile was command to fire” refers to the method Hayabusa2 used to collect a sample. The spacecraft approached the surface and touched down on the asteroid with its sampling horn. It fired a 5 gram tantalum bullet into the surface, and let the kinetic energy and microgravity send samples into its sampling horn.
A very brief press release from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) also confirmed the success of this phase of the mission:
National - Research - Development - Agency - Japan
“National Research and Development Agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) executed the asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 operation to touch down the surface of the target asteroid Ryugu for sample retrieval.
Data analysis from Hayabusa2 confirms that the sequence of operation proceeded, including shooting a projectile into the asteroid to collect its sample material. The Hayabusa2 spacecraft is in nominal state. This marks the Hayabusa2 successful touchdown on Ryugu.”
JAXA - Press - Release - February
JAXA Press Release, February 22nd, 2019.
This is an exciting accomplishment for JAXA, and marks their second successful asteroid sampling mission, following the success of the first Hayabusa mission to the asteroid Itokawa.
Hayabusa2 - Work - Pieces - Rock - Home
Hayabusa2 isn’t done yet. It has more work to do before it can send these tantalizing pieces of primordial rock home to Earth. While these surface samples are valuable and will be cherished by scientists once they’re available for study, Hayabusa2 has its sights set...
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