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Scientists prepare to collect asteroid sand sample

  • November 30, 2020
  • , NHK WORLD
  • English Press

Scientists are making final preparations to retrieve a capsule from a Japanese space probe that went to collect sand from an asteroid.

 

Japan’s space agency, JAXA, launched Hayabusa2 in 2014. It has twice landed on an asteroid called Ryugu about 340 million kilometers from Earth.

 

As of Monday morning, the probe was moving at about four kilometers per second, roughly 2.3 million kilometers from home.

 

Scientists plan to make a final course adjustment on Tuesday. On December 5, Hayabusa2 is scheduled to release a capsule that researchers believe contains sand from the asteroid. The capsule is due to land in an Australian desert on December 6.

 

A team of researchers arrived in southern Australia on November 24. They are preparing to track the capsule by radar and collect it.

 

The capsule will be flown to Japan and its contents will be divided by researchers after an initial analysis. Their study could provide clues about how the solar system was formed, as well as the origin of water and life on Earth.

 

After releasing the capsule, Hayabusa2 will change course and begin a new 10-year mission to explore another asteroid.

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