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Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft

An unmanned Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 orbiting an asteroid has made surprising discoveries that scientists say will improve understanding about the origins of the Earth's water and help search for life in other solar systems.

Hayabusa2 made history on 22 February when it successfully touched down on the boulder-strewn asteroid and collected some surface fragments.

Hayabusa2

It is an asteroid sample-return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

It was launched on 3 December 2014 and rendezvoused with near-Earth asteroid 162173 Ryugu on 27 June 2018.

It is in the process of surveying the asteroid for a year and a half, departing in December 2019, and returning to Earth in December 2020.

Hayabusa2 carries multiple science payloads for remote sensing, sampling, and four small rovers that will investigate the asteroid surface to inform the environmental and geological context of the samples collected.

Importance of this mission

Ryugu is a C-type asteroid – a relic from the early days of the Solar System.

Scientists think that C-type asteroids contain both organic matter, and trapped water, and might have been responsible for bringing both to Earth, thereby providing the planet with the materials necessary for life to originate.

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