Discovery of coal-like rocks sent by a Japanese probe to Earth from an asteroid 300 million km from us

Stunning images released by Japan’s space agency revealed some materials such as coal that were collected from the Ryugu asteroid’s surface last year.

Experts said that the specimens brought back to Earth by the Hayabusa 2 mission are 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter, and solid like rocks.

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The discovery follows images released last week of small, black, sand-like grains collected at different locations by the spacecraft last week.

Ryugu is known as an asteroid near Earth, about 0.62 miles (1 km) in diameter, located about 190 million miles (or 300 million km) from our planet.

After leaving Ryogo in November 2019, the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft returned to Earth a few weeks earlier on 5 December, dropping its prototype capsule into the Australian outback.

Tomahiro Usui, a space materials scientist at the Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), reported that the sand particles described last week came from the first landing of “Hayabusa 2” on the surface of the asteroid Ryagu, which took place in February 2019.

However, the larger pieces, which surfaced on 24 December, were collected in a second landing, and stored in a separate compartment at Hayabusa II.

This second set of samples, taken in July 2019, was collected by the spacecraft, which dropped the material of a collision, which detonated material from beneath the asteroid’s surface, to ensure that space radiation The recovered material has not changed due to factors such as.

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According to Professor Usui, the difference in size of the two groups of samples indicates the different stiffness of the bedroom across the surface of the asteroid.

“One possibility is that the second landing site was a solid rock,” the space materials scientist said. This means, he said, that “larger particles were broken off and entered the compartment.”

Researchers hope the study of the collection of rock samples from Ryugu will help shed more light on the asteroid’s origins and the history of the wider solar system, with more analysis expected in the new year.

After testing the specimens in Japan, some will be loaned to NASA and other international space agencies for additional research.

Meanwhile, the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is now on an 11-year search voyage to another small and distant asteroid, 1998KY26, which aims to study potential defenses against space rocks that might someday fly towards Earth. .

Source: Daily Mail

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