Japanese spacecraft carrying soil samples from a submarine near home

Japanese spacecraft carrying soil samples from a submarine near home

TOKYO (AP) – A Japanese spacecraft is approaching Earth after a long journey after a long journey with soil samples and data from near Earth, a space agency official said Friday. .

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft launched a storm about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth a year ago and is expected to launch a capsule with valuable specimens into South Australia on December 6.

Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency believe that the samples, especially those taken from under the star’s surface, are not affected by space radiation and other environmental factors.

Mayato Yoshikawa, a Hayabusa 2 project mission manager, said scientists are particularly interested in analyzing organic matter in Ryugu soil samples.

“Organic matter is the beginning of life on Earth, but we still don’t know where it came from,” Yoshikawa said. “We hope to find clues to the origin of life on Earth by analyzing the details of the organic matter brought back by Hayabusa 2.”

Jaxa, the space agency, plans to launch the sampled capsule into space in a remote, sparsely populated area of ​​Australia, 220,000 kilometers (136,700 miles) away, a major challenge requiring precision control. The capsule, protected by a heat shield, will turn into a fireball as it re-enters the atmosphere 200 kilometers (125 miles) above the Earth. About 10 kilometers (6 miles) above the ground, the parachute will open to prepare for landing, and beacon signals will be transmitted to indicate its location.

Jaxa staff has set up satellite dishes at various locations in the target area to capture signals, while also developing marine radars, drones and helicopters to assist in search and achievement missions.

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Without these measures, it would be “very difficult” to find a pen-shaped capsule with a diameter of 40 centimeters (15 inches), “Yoshikawa told reporters.

For Hayabus 2, this is not the end of the mission she started in 2014. After dropping the capsule, it will return to space and travel to another distant small planet, called 1998KY26, which will take 10 years to complete.

Hayabus 2 touched Ryugu twice, despite its rocky surface, and successfully collected data and samples in the 15 years since its arrival in June 2018.

In the first touchdown in February 2019, it collected surface dust samples. In July, after landing in a spacecraft, it collected underground samples of straw for the first time in space history that it had previously created by blasting the planet’s surface.

Scientists say planetary soil samples contain traces of carbon and organic matter. Jaxa hopes to find clues as to how the materials in the solar system are distributed and related to life on Earth.

The stars, which revolve around the sun but are much smaller than the planets, are one of the oldest objects in the solar system and can therefore help explain how the earth evolved.

It took the spacecraft 30 years to reach Ryugu, but home travel was very limited due to Ryugu and the current location on Earth.

Ryugu in Japanese means “Dragon Palace,” the name of the seabed fort in a Japanese folk tale.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at hpps: //www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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