After a six year mission and a flight of hundreds of millions of kilometers, a Japanese space capsule has targeted a landing site in the South Australian outback with the first asteroid samples below the surface.
The capsule was on board the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which first landed on the Ryugu asteroid, which was more than 300 million kilometers from Earth, last February.
After its release, it was supposed to enter the earth’s atmosphere early Sunday morning before a parachute was deployed and landed on the spot in the forbidden Woomera area.
Professor Masaki Fujimoto of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the asteroid samples could help answer a fundamental question: How did water begin and then life on Earth?
« The original earth had no water at all. So had to bring some water to our planet to make it habitable.
Tracking Hayabusa2 since its launch in 2014 has been the Canberra-based Deep Space Communication Network.
« You can drive billions of kilometers on 66 kilograms of fuel. An extremely efficient way of maneuvering. «
The capsule’s release over the US and surveillance from California was successfully triggered in Australia late Saturday afternoon.
The Canberra Center is tracking Hayabusa2 as it « leaps off » and leaves Earth on its extended mission, a 10-year journey to the July 2031 rendezvous with a much smaller asteroid named 1998 KY26.
Hayabusa2, asteroid, JAXA, earth, 162173 Ryugu, Japan, Hayabusa
World news – AU – Space capsule for touchdown in the outback
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