Japanese spacecraft readying to sample ancient asteroid

Japan's Hayabusa 2 will collect rocks from asteroid Ryugu.


NSFW    JAPAN — Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is scheduled to collect rock samples from the asteroid Ryugu on February 22.

The spacecraft will fire a 5 gram projectile made of metal tantalum onto the asteroid's surface while touching down, according to the BBC.

The particles that fly up will then be collected by the spacecraft's sampler horn as Hayabusa 2 descends onto the asteroid's surface.

The scientists involved believe the samples will provide insight into the evolution and origin of the Earth as Ryugu is believed to be an ancient asteroid.

Hayabusa 2 had previously deployed two rovers that explored Ryugu's surface. They sent back images and data of the asteroid to Earth.

The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth with the samples in 2020.
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