Syllabus Section: Science and Technology / Space Missions


Why in news?

The Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission is set to return back to Earth by carrying the samples from the Ryugu asteroid that orbits the Sun. The mission is similar to NASA’s OSIRIS-REX mission that brought back samples from asteroid Bennu. According to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), this is the first time that a probe has visited a celestial body that is under 100 metres in diameter

What is the Hayabusa2 mission?

• The Hayabasu2 mission was launched in December 2014 when the spacecraft was sent on a six-year-long voyage to study the asteroid Ryugu and collect samples that it is now bringing back to the Earth.

• The spacecraft arrived at the asteroid in mid-2018 after which it deployed two rovers and a small lander onto the surface. In 2019, the spacecraft fired an impactor into the asteroid’s surface to create an artificial crater with a diametre of a little more than 10 metres, which allowed it to collect the samples.

• Hayabasu2’s predecessor, the Hayabusa mission brought back samples from the asteroid Itokawa in 2010.

What is an asteroid?

• Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, much smaller than planets. They are also called minor planets. According to NASA, there are 994,383 known asteroids, the remnants from the formation of the solar system over 4.6 billion years ago.

• Asteroids are divided into three classes. First, those found in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which is estimated to contain somewhere between 1.1-1.9 million asteroids.


Source: The Indian Express