The Japanese satellite Hayabusa 2 is ready to land on the asteroid Ryugu and should do it later this week. On Monday morning, Japanese officials confirmed that the spacecraft will attempt to land at 6 pm EST Thursday, February 21. The probe has orbited Ryugu since June 2018. Once it reaches the surface, it will begin its primary mission of collecting samples from the Ryugu surface. Finally, he will return these samples to Earth for study.
Originally, the lander had planned to land last October. But a closer inspection of the asteroid showed that it was covered with big rocks and rocks. This made it difficult for Hayabusa 2 to collect grains of sand and powder. Scientists at the mission realized they needed more time to locate safe landing sites, where the craft would have more than chances of successfully collecting surface materials. Now they are confident that they have chosen such a place.
Mines for science
Hayabusa 2 will use much the same method as its predecessor, Hayabusa 1, who visited the asteroid Itokawa in 2005. It involves shooting a small projectile into the asteroid's surface, which will project dust and small grains that Hayabusa 2 will collect with its sampling horn.
Hayabusa will shoot twice, to ensure that scientists have enough material to study. Later this year, he will also launch a larger projectile at a greater distance to attract materials below Ryugu's surface.
In addition, Ryugu is exploring a series of landers that Hayabusa 2 has taken with her. He deployed two of these rovers, HIBOU and OWL, in September. MASCOT landed a few weeks later, in October, and Rover-2 is scheduled for July this year. All mobiles are able to move around the asteroid to change position and study the asteroid from several positions. They returned valuable information that helped scientists to choose good locations for future studies and to better understand the temporary home of Hayabusa 2.
Hayabusa 2 will definitely leave Ryugu in December and return to Earth a year later, at the end of 2020.