Hayabusa2, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) asteroid-chasing spacecraft has successfully delivered the storage capsule containing soil samples from asteroid Ryugu--a deep space near-earth asteroid--for scientists to determine what the space rock contains.
JAXA Scientists Open Hayabusa2 Sample
According to CNET, the capsule landed successfully on an Australian outback on December 6, after which JAXA scientists located the capsule and brought them back to a makeshift laboratory known as QLF, or the Quick Look Facility.
During its time in the QLF, the scientists worked on some tests on the soil samples from asteroid Ryugu and soon found a trace of gas in the sample.
However, they were unsure whether the gas was from Earth or from the asteroid samples.
Finally, on Monday, December 14, the team had revealed via a press release that the gas they detected was indeed from the asteroid itself--and with the announcement came the first images of the material Hayabusa2 was able to acquire from asteroid Ryugu.
The initial result was confirmed by a secondary analysis saying that the gas sample is of extraterrestrial origin.
This is the first time a gas sample has been brought from deep space back to Earth.
Asteroid Sample Came From Ryugu
Furthermore, the Japanese space agency has also provided definitive evidence that the samples from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft are indeed from the asteroid.
Based on the report, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft sample capsule, informally known as "tamatebako" or "treasure box," contains three chambers simply known as A, B, and C, which will be used for when Hayabusa2 touches down on the asteroid and grabs a few samples from it.
The Japanese-made spacecraft touched down on asteroid Ryugu two times during its stint around it for 18 months between 2018 and 2019, with touchdowns successfully happening last year.
During the first touchdown, the scientists said the samples would be kept in chamber A, while the second touchdown would store the collected samples in chamber C.
When the scientists acquired the treasure box and opened it on Sunday, December 13, they found a fine, black grain on the outside of the main chambers, which is a great start and helped the scientists confirm that the rock samples were indeed from space rock.
More Results to Come
This Monday, the JAXA scientists held a press conference from their purpose-built facility located in Sagamihara, Japan, where they showed the contents of the capsule for the first time.
The success of Hayabusa2 is not just the success of the Japanese space agency but all of mankind as it allows our scientists to answer even just a few of the thousands of questions we have about our universe.
The asteroid Ryugu is one of the relics of the past and getting answers about its origin could also help our scientists find out the answer to how Earth came to be.
As of now, JAXA has only opened chamber A of the treasure box, but they will be opening chamber C in the coming days to perform some tests, with the details expected to be released in early 2021.
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Written by: Nhx Tingson