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Hayabusa2 mission to asteroid Ryugu

Hayabusa2 space probeHayabusa2 space probeThe Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) space probe Hayabusa2 (hayabusa is Japanese for "falcon") was launched on 3rd December 2014. Its mission was to study the asteroid Ryugu, collect rock samples from it and bring them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu on 27th June 2018. It is scheduled to depart the asteroid in December 2019 and return the samples it collected from the asteroid to Earth by the end of 2020. The space probe is equipped with a number of scientific instruments, including a range of cameras, a Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) instrument, a sampling device, an impactor (SCI) and four robotic rovers. Hayabusa2 released them—at different dates—from an altitude of about 60 metres (200 feet), allowing them to fall freely to Ryugu's surface.

Hayabusa2 approaches RyuguHayabusa2 approaches Ryugu
Ryugu asteroidRyugu asteroid

Ryugu

The asteroid Ryugu orbits the Sun between Earth and Mars, sometimes moving inside Earth's orbit. It comes to within 95,400 kilometres (60,000 miles) of Earth and so is classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO). Ryugu is a type of asteroid that is made up of mixture of minerals, ice and organic compounds formed at the time of the birth of the Solar System. Studying it is expected to provide more knowledge about the origin of water and living things on Earth—whether these could have come from asteroids. 

The capsule containing rocks samples collected by Hayabus2 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and land at the Woomera Test Range in Australia in December 2020.The total distance flown by the capsule (Earth–Ryugu–Earth) will have come to 5240 million km (3250 million miles).

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