Asteroid dust can show how water came to Earth

Japanese scientists hope to answer questions about how our solar system was created and how water ended up on Earth. To help them, they have a capsule of dust brought home from the asteroid.

A Jaxa employee picks up an asteroid dust capsule that landed in the desert in Australia.Picture: JAXA via AP / TT

On Sunday in Japanese time, a capsule of dust from the asteroid Ruygu landed in the Australian desert north of Adelaide. On Sunday, he flew by helicopter from the landing site to the research station of the Japanese space agency Jaxa.

– The probe landed on the asteroid twice and created an artificial crater a second time and collected several fragments, says Chairman of the Board Hiroshi Yamakawa at a press conference.

The spacecraft called Hayabusa-2 collected dust and other material – a total of 0.1 grams.

– I hope it shows how the solar system came into being and how water came to Earth, says Yamakawa.

The capsule may also contain gas.

“The gases captured in the rock samples could show more about the conditions that prevailed about 4.6 billion years ago,” explains astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith of Australian television.

Work to obtain the vessel also emphasizes close technical cooperation between Japan and Australia.

– Our work in support of Jaxa did not end until we discovered that the canister was leaving Australia safely and being returned to Japan, says Megan Clark, head of the Australian Space Agency, and continues:

– Then the samples will start to tell and give us clues about how water came to our Earth and maybe even how we came, such as our organic matter, carbon-based animals, people and plants.

The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft left Earth in 2014 and traveled for four years against the asteroid Ryugu. It used to be there in orbit for several months to map the surface before landing.

The spacecraft began its journey back to Earth in November 2019, but after Hayabusa-2 left the dust capsule, it changed direction and flew back into space.

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