The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 is ready to touch the asteroid Ryugu and should do so later this week. On Monday morning, Japanese officials confirmed that the spacecraft will attempt to land at. 6 EST Thursday, February 21, . The spacecraft has been in orbit around Ryugu since June 2018. When it reaches the surface, it will begin its main task of collecting samples from Ryugel's surface. Finally, it will return these samples to Earth to study.
The lander had originally planned to move down already in October last year. But closer inspection of the asteroid showed that it was covered with large stones and stones. It complicated Hayabusa's task of gathering powder and sand grains. Mission researchers realized that they needed more time to mirror safe landing sites where the spacecraft would have a better chance of successfully collecting material from the surface. Now they are now sure that they have such a stain.
Mining for science
Hayabusa 2 will use much the same method as its predecessor, Hayabusa 1
Hayabusa will perform this shot twice to ensure that it takes sufficient material for researchers to study. Later this year, it will also shoot a larger projectile from a larger distance to touch the material underneath Ryugu's surface.
Also exploring Ryugu is a number of runways that Hayabusa 2 brought with it. It identified two of these robbers, HIBOU and OWL, in September. MASCOT landed a few weeks later, in October, and Rover-2 is scheduled for July this year. All rovers are able to jump around the asteroid to change position and study the asteroid from multiple positions. They have sent back valuable information that has helped scientists choose good places for future study and better understand Hayabusa's temporary home.
Hayabusa 2 will leave Ryugu for good in December and return to Earth a year later in late 2020.