Health Editor’s Note: We at VT have been keeping up on the Hayabusa2 project and the craft has returned to earth with asteroid surface material and subsurface material as it completed its 6-year mission to the asteroid 162173 Ryugu. The Hayabusa2 spacecraft will now begin an 11-year astronomical mission. In 2031, 27 years after launch and 11 years after the original mission ended, the spacecraft will approach 1998 KY26. Exciting news!…Carol
Hayabusa2’s Mission Returns Asteroid Sample to Earth
By Philip Whitehouse/NasaSpaceFlight.com
Hayabusa2’s sample return capsule has landed in Woomera, Australia, today, 5 December — or 6 December local time at Woomera. The exact landing location is now being determined, but a tweet from the mission’s official account says an estimated location of landing has been identified and teams are en route to recover it.
The craft returned not just asteroid surface material, but subsurface material (at first) as well, and will be met by Japanese scientists after completing its six-year mission to the asteroid 162173 Ryugu.
The main Hayabusa2 spacecraft meanwhile used its remaining propellant to start an extended, 11-year astronomical mission.
Spacecraft and mission profile
Hayabusa2 is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) operated mission with a dry mass of 490 kg. It launched with four small rovers, an impactor, and five target markers on 3 December 2014 on an H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center and rendezvoused with the asteroid Ryugu on 27 June 2018.