Japan’s asteroid sample-return spacecraft Hayabusa2 gets extended mission

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 is currently making its round-trip return from an asteroid, bringing pieces of the space rock back to Earth. But instead of ending its run with that cosmic delivery, after dropping off its precious parcel, the spacecraft will swing back out into space to visit another rocky destination.

After Hayabusa2 delivers its samples of asteroid Ryugu to Earth in December, the craft will head off toward a new asteroid target: 1998 KY26, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a statement. The spacecraft should reach the new asteroid in 2031.

Hayabusa2 reached asteroid Ryugu in June 2018 and spent over a year studying the space rock. The spacecraft left Ryugu in November 2019 and its sample-return capsule will return pieces of the asteroid to Earth with a Dec. 6 landing in the Australian Outback. 

Hayabusa2’s first mission aimed to help scientists learn about the composition of

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Remnants of an ancient asteroid shed new light on the early solar system — ScienceDaily

Researchers have shaken up a once accepted timeline for cataclysmic events in the early solar system. About 4.5 Ga (giga-anum, or billion years ago), as a large disc of dust and ice collapsed around our newly formed star, planets and smaller celestial bodies were formed. What followed was a chaotic and violent period of collisions and impacts as the familiar eight planets carved out their orbits to resemble the balanced system we observe today. Geological and geochemical records indicate that after about 600-700 million years after formation — but still early in the solar system’s existence — the Earth-Moon system experienced a period of frequent and cataclysmic impacts from asteroids and other bodies. This period is dubbed the late heavy bombardment (LHB) period.

It was once thought that this period had a relatively sudden onset, but a research team at Hiroshima University and The University of Tokyo in Japan have

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OSIRIS-REx will attempt its first asteroid sample collection next month

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is almost ready to touch down on the asteroid Bennu, NASA announced today. On October 20th, OSIRIS-REx will make its first attempt at collecting a sample of the asteroid’s rocks and dust. This will be the first time NASA has collected pieces of an asteroid and the largest sample return from space since the Apollo program.

OSIRIS-REx is about the size of a large van, and it will touch down in a sampling area that is about the size of a few parking spaces — 52 feet in diameter. The area is surrounded by building-sized boulders, which could make the landing a bit more challenging. 

Once OSIRIS-REx has landed, a robotic sampling arm will perform Touch-And-Go (TAG) collection. The mission is to collect at least two ounces, or 60 grams, of rocky material. If the first TAG attempt in October does not collect enough material, OSIRIS-REx has

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A newly discovered asteroid will pass close to Earth on Thursday

Discovered only on September 18, in Tucson, Arizona, the school bus-sized asteroid which is estimated to be somewhere between 15-30 feet in diameter is expected to graze past our planets surface with about 13,000 miles of breathing room. This falls well below the orbit of our geostationary weather satellites which are located about 22,000 miles above earth’s surface.

Its closest approach to earth will occur around 7:12 a.m. ET on Thursday, as it skirts over the Southeastern Pacific Ocean, near Australia and New Zealand.

Its approach will be so close to earth, that our gravity will alter its speed and trajectory according to earthsky.org.

“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year,” said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.… Read More

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