After six years and millions of miles of travel, the capsule with a sample of the asteroid Ryugo landed on Earth.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA = Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) has successfully completed its mission to bring a part of Ryugu asteroid back to Earth. A capsule carrying the sample was disconnected from the spacecraft Hyabusa2, when it was 130.000 miles from Earth, then landed with the help of a parachute and was recovered in remote Australia on Saturday.
According to one NPR report , this is the first time that scientists will be able to examine a sample of asteroids whose structure has not been altered or destroyed, through the hot process of entering the Earth's atmosphere. Since space rocks (like Ryugu) are what eventually become planets, the ability to study this sample could provide clues as to how the Earth was formed and the creation itself.
The sample is now in a laboratory in Australia, where scientists have already extracted and studied the gas surrounding organic matter.
This priceless sample is really small: It weighs about one gram in total. However, size does not always matter. The collection is the result of a six-year mission around Ryugu, a one-mile asteroid orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars.
JAXA launched the Hyabusa2 in 2014. It then spent three and a half years orbiting the sun to take its place. He arrived in Ryugu in 2018 and made two trips to its surface. To return the sample, the Hyabusa2 reached a distance of 130.000 miles from Earth and then the capsule was detached to land in Australia. Hyabusa2 is now on its way to another asteroid. Nice trip!