Tokyo. After a space travel of more than five billion kilometers, the Japanese space probe “Hayabusa2” is about to complete its spectacular mission. Six years after her departure from Japan to the asteroid Ryugu, she will return on Saturday evening (CET) and will drop a capsule with samples of the celestial body while flying past Earth over a desert in South Australia.
It is 4.6 billion years old material from the earliest times of the solar system, as the mission manager, Makoto Yoshikawa of the Japanese space agency Jaxa, explained. After that, “Hayabusa2” should set off on another mission and head for another near-Earth asteroid. The probe should arrive there in around ten years. A previous model of “Hayabusa2” brought soil samples from an asteroid to Earth for the first time in 2010.
With the mission, the scientists want to track down the origins of the solar system. The probe had collected samples from the surface of the asteroid Ryugu and, for the first time, from an area below the surface of an asteroid.
First analyzes from 2021
The first analyzes of the material will begin in Japan in June 2021. Japan’s space agency Jaxa will make some of the samples available to NASA and, in 2022, also to researchers in other countries. The German Aerospace Center (DLR), which is involved in the mission together with the French space agency CNES, is also planning investigations.