Hayabusa 2 Mission by JAXA

The Hayabusa 2 mission was launched by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on December 3, 2014. The mission was aimed at collecting asteroid samples from space and returning them back to Earth. 

This mission targeted to collect samples from the 1999 JU3 (Ryugu) asteroid and get them back to the Earth’s surface for further study and research. 

Given below are the key points which one must know regarding JAXA’s mission:

Hayabusa 2 – All You Need To Know
Name of the Mission Hayabusa 2
Aim of the Mission Collect and return sample of asteroid Ryugu
Mission Type Asteroid Return
Mission Duration 6 years (approx)
Launch Date December 3, 2014
Rocket H-IIA 202
Launch Site Tanegashima Space Center, LA-Y
Expected Date of Landing December 6, 2020
Distance between Asteroid and Earth 3090 km
Date of touchdown at Ryugu June 27, 2018
Date of departure from Ryugu November 12, 2019

The spacecraft has started its journey back to the Earth after capturing images and samples from the asteroid 1999 JU3 (Ryugu).

In this article, we shall discuss the important features of the mission and help the researchers study in detail about the elements found on the surface of the asteroid. This topic is important for candidates preparing for the various competitive exams, especially the upcoming IAS Exam.

To study the other major achievements in the Indian and International space missions, refer to the following links:

Hayabusa 2 Mission – Key Points

Hayabusa 2 is Japan’s second mission to collect sample asteroids and return them back to the Earth. Before this Hayabusa mission was also launched by JAXA in May 2003. 

Given below are few important features of the Hayabusa 2 Mission:

  • The word ‘Hayabusa’ is a Japanese term used for Peregrine falcon
  • The mission aimed at collecting samples from the asteroid named Ryugu and returning it back to Earth
  • This sample-return asteroid mission was launched in December 2014 from Tanegashima Space Center, LA-Y
  • The spacecraft landed on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu in June 2018 and has now started its journey back to the Earth
  • The spacecraft stayed for almost 18 months on the asteroid and sent images for a detailed study of the surface of Ryugu
  • Its estimated date of arrival as per JAXA is December 6, 2020
  • The payload comprises components like:
    • Optical Navigation Camera
    • Near Infra-red Camera
    • Thermal Infra-red Camera
    • Four rovers to collect the sample
    • Sampling device

A similar mission has been taken up by NASA, named OSIRIS-REx Mission. As per the United Nations, this mission is expected to collect the largest amount of surface sample and dust. UPSC aspirants are advised to refer to the linked article to learn more about this mission. 

Hayabusa Mission

A brief description of the first Hayabusa mission is given below, as Hayabusa2 was a similar mission carried out by JAXA but for a different asteroid:

  • Hayabusa was a robotic spacecraft designed to collect and return asteroid samples back to Earth
  • The mission was performed on the asteroid named  25143 Itokawa and was successfully led by JAXA
  • The entire mission was completed in 7 years, 1 month, and 4 days. The spacecraft took off from the Earth surface on May 9, 2003, and landed back with Itokawa samples on June 23, 2010

The success of the first Hayabusa, motivated JAXA to expand their space mission and a second similar mission was announced.

Asteroid Ryugu (1999 JU3)

What is the significance of asteroid Ryugu for Hayabusa 2 Mission?

Ryugu is a C-type asteroid, but also possesses the qualities of a B-type asteroid. As per research, this asteroid dates back to the time when the solar system was discovered. Considering the surface area, distance from the Earth and its existence in space, JAXA chose Ryugu for the Hayabusa 2 mission. 

Thus, studying Ryugu can help with researching about the elements present on the asteroid surface and to analyse if human-used resources are widely available or not. Also, various unknown minerals or elements can be gathered from the surface of Ryugu for detailed research. 

When and by whom was the asteroid Ryugu discovered?

Ryugu was discovered by NASA’s Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) team on May 10, 1999. It is a near-Earth object and belongs to the Appolo group. 

Finally, with its arrival on the surface of Earth by December 2020, the JAXA researchers will be able to study the surface and elements collected by the Hayabusa 2 mission. 

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