Japan’s Hayabusa2’s spacecraft is on its way back to Earth after it met asteroid Ryugu about 180 million miles away. The work that it did while orbiting the rocky cosmic traveler reveals more about its secrets.
According to CNET, the latest discovery is the fact that it’s red and blue in the face and now experts also know the reason for this.
Just to refresh your memory, the Japanese space agency JAXA launched the Hayabusa2 mission back in December 2014 and made a beeline for the spinning-top-shaped asteroid Ryugu.
The space rock orbits the sun between Earth and Mars. After Hayabusas chased the asteroid for about four years, it finally met the rock back in 2018.
Ever since, Hayabusa2 has been “dancing” with the asteroid and it also made sure to drop two rovers on the rocky surface and also a third robot a couple of years ago.
Ryugu’s secrets are out
A new study by JAXA experts and collaborators that has been published in the journal Science this week, used the high-res images taken during a close-up encounter with Ryugu back in February 2019 to reveal some of the most intimate details of the space rock.
One of the goals that the spacecraft had was to get a sample of the rock that’s above the surface of the asteroid, and in order to do this, it needed to get a lay of the land as well.
When the spacecraft touched down in February 2019, debris was kicked up and also sprayed all over the surface. The touchdown of Ryugu was in an area with more blue surface material but after the touchdown, there was also a layer of dark red grains that were littered.
The good news for JAXA was that Hayabusa2 managed to get both the reddish and blueish material to study back on Earth.